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International Friendlies Friday Wrap: France lose to China, Ivory Coast claim first win under Sven

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An eventful round of friendlies took place last night as more teams looked to settle formations, tactics and positions through these pre-World Cup warm up games. Five of our 32 finalists were in action last night and we witnessed shocks, injuries, bookings and some pure entertaining action from these often shunned away warm up games. France took on China in their final friendly prior to the FIFA World Cup while Japan and Ivory Coast wrestled each other just 10 odd days prior to their respective World Cup campaign openers in order to determine how well they are prepared to shock the universe with their skills in South Africa. Finally, Slovenia took on a New Zealand team who were suddenly given respect after their victory over a talented Serbian team a couple of days ago.

France 0 - 1 China

yoann_gour.jpgWhoever thought that a team incapable of making it to the final rounds of their regional qualifiers was capable of beating a former World Champion! The Great Wall were just too difficult for Les Blues (playing at home) to break down as they not only shut out a team consisting of the likes of Franck Ribery, Nicolas Anelka and Yohann Gourcuff but also managed to triumph over them, claiming one of the most famous victories in their footballing history. The Chinese were coming off a defeat at the hands of Portugal who ended a 15 game undefeated run for Gao Hongbo's team. France had deployed a near perfect line-up with all their stars present on the pitch apart from Thierry Henry who started on the bench. Their opponents though were missing a few key players.

China's goal came in the 68th minute against the run of play via Deng Zhuoxiang. The 21-year old smashed a 25 yard free kick with plenty of swerve beyond Hugo Lloris and into the back of the net. France had dominated the game throughout controlling more than two-thirds of the possession. They also had 10 shots on goal in comparison to China's 2. France will be reeling after this defeat as it has come with just a week left for the FIFA World Cup to begin. They will be taking on Uruguay in the opening game of their World Cup campaign.

Japan 0 - 2 Ivory Coast

Sven-Goran Eriksson's second game in charge at the helm of Ivory Coast came against Asian giants Japan in Sion, Switzerland. The Japanese entered the game with a 3 game losing streak blotting their confidence. Marcus Tanaka scored his 2nd own goal in as many games in the 13th minute to give the Elephants the lead. Calamity struck only 5 minute later for the Ivory Coast as Marcus Tanaka's challenge on Didier Drogba meant that the Chelsea hitman couldn't play any further role in the game. The inspiring Captain limped off the pitch amidst doubts over his further participation in this year's finals. The Elephants sealed the game in the 80th minute with Kolo Toure slamming a brilliant half volley into the goal with the Japanese goalkeeper unaware of what just flew by him.

Slovenia 3 - 1 New Zealand

31-year old FC Cologne striker Milivoje Novakovic was the star of the show as his first half brace took his team to a comfortable 3 - 1 victory over New Zealand at home. In fact, all four goals of the game came in the first half. The All Whites, frenzied after their 1 - 0 victory over Serbia, equalized in the 20th minute via Rory Fallon after Novakovic had given the Slovenians the lead in the 6th minute. But it was all Slovenia after that as Novakovic added a 2nd in the 30th minute and Poland based midfielder Andraz Kirm took the game beyond New Zealand's reach in the 44th minute with the home team's third. Slovenia head straight to the World Cup where they kick start their campaign against the Algerians while New Zealand keep up their heavy-duty preparations on with a final friendly against Chile a day prior to the beginning of the FIFA World Cup 2010.

File Photograph Copyright: Ryu Voelkel

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