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Lamouchi breathes easier as Toure is deemed fit to start

Yaya Toure will be fit to start their World Cup campaign against Japan, the Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said yesterday.

The three-time African footballer of the year picked up a hamstring injury in April playing for club side Manchester City as they went on to win the English Premier League title.

He joined up late with the Ivory Coast squad after undergoing treatment in Qatar and missed the two warm-up matches in the United States where the Africans lost 2-1 to Bosnia but beat El Salvador by the same score.

He is likely to start in the heart of midfield, however, as Ivory Coast face Japan in a Group C match at the Pernambuco arena in the northern city of Recife on Saturday.

"I can tell you that all my players are physically ready to play tomorrow," Lamouchi told a news conference. "I can't say that all my players will be at 100%. We have had a number of injuries and health problems but everybody is available tomorrow."

The Japan defender Maya Yoshida is ready to renew his rivalry with some familiar faces and is aware that he needs to be on top of his game to thwart players such as Toure and Gervinho.

Gervinho, then with Arsenal, soured Yoshida's 2012 Southampton debut with a brace in a 6-1 Premier League romp and the Japanese centre-back considers himself responsible for one of the two goals scored by the striker, who now plays for Roma.

"I played against Gervinho on my debut at Emirates Stadium and one of his goals was from my mistake," said Yoshida. "I've played against Toure as well but we won that time and know [Wilfried] Bony from Vitesse Arnhem and Swansea City.

"I have watched a couple of [Ivory Coast] games and I think Toure will play, so for 90 minutes we have to concentrate," the 25-year-old added. "Toure told me he thought it would be a difficult game against Japan, but I said to him 'I don't think you really think that.'"

Ivory Coast's attacking riches means former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba is not guaranteed a place in the starting XI while they also have an additional luxury in the form of targetman Bony, who enjoyed a stellar debut season in South Wales.

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