NELSPRUIT (Reuters) - Ivory Coast romped to a 3-0 victory over North Korea on Friday but the one-sided win was not enough to prevent them becoming the fifth African side to exit the World Cup in the first round.
Portugal’s 0-0 draw with Brazil in the other final Group G match ensured they both qualified for the last 16, rendering the Ivorian result meaningless. North Korea, who lost all three of their games conceding 12 goals, had already been eliminated.
Goals from Yaya Toure, Ndri Romaric and Salomon Kalou gave the Ivorians the 3-0 win but it could easily have been double figures as North Korea struggled to cope with the one-way traffic heading towards their net.
Ivorian striker Didier Drogba said a lack of composure cost his side dear.
“If we were a little bit more calm maybe we could have scored more goals,” said Drogba, who jumped an advertising board after the game and threw one boot into the stand before giving the other to an elated fan.
“Our World Cup is over today but we can be proud of what we did against Portugal, and what we did against Brazil and today. We are disappointed, but we can’t be too disappointed when you are in a group like this with Portugal and Brazil.”
Ghana are the only African side to qualify for the second round in South Africa.
Needing a glut of goals to stand any chance of advancing, Ivory Coast left Kalou on the bench and opted for a three-pronged attack of Drogba, Gervais Kouassi and Abdelkader Keita.
North Korea coach Kim Jong-hun kept faith with the same starting 11 that were ruthlessly dismantled 7-0 by Portugal in their previous game.
Ri Myong-guk was forced into action right from the kickoff, making a smart save from Keita, but there would be no respite for the North Korean goalkeeper as Ivory Coast flooded forward at every opportunity.
Drogba looked in the mood from the outset with his menacing runs and sublime control, and he had a goal disallowed for offside in the 11th minute.
The Ivorians would not have long to wait though and in the 14th minute Toure took a pass on the edge of the area before curling the ball into the far corner of the net.
Romaric struck the outside of the post four minutes later but was on hand to nod home after Drogba crashed a vicious shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 20th minute.
North Korea’s first and only chance of the first half came in the 25th minute when captain Hong Yong-jo stroked a freekick just wide of Boubacar Barry’s goal.
The west Africans picked up where the left off in the second half, Drogba sending a diving header wide and Kouassi failing to connect with Keita’s dangerous delivery, but North Korea looked far more organised in defence.
Jong Tae-se almost pulled one back for North Korea in the 81st minute but he could not force the ball over the line.
Instead, Ivory Coast notched up a third when Kalou, on as a substitute, side footed home from close range in the 82nd minute after a great cross from Arthur Boka.
Kim said North Korea, returning to the World Cup for the first time in 44 years, would have to become bigger and stronger for future tournaments.
“For the next World Cup ... our players have to improve their individual abilities — they have to become stronger mentally and physically,” the coach told a news conference.
“Though our players were very good in the defence, basically we were overpowered and their attack was quite strong.”
Editing by Michael Holden