Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba will likely miss the upcoming World Cup after breaking his right elbow today in a pre-tournament warmup game against Japan.
Drogba was taken off the field 15 minutes into the game at Stade de Tourbillon in Sion, Switzerland after a high challenge by Brazilian-born Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka.
The 32-year-old appeared to be hit in the elbow by Tanaka’s right knee in a minor collision, which sent Drogba to the turf. Soon after he walked off the field grimacing in pain and holding his right arm, Drogba was taken to hospital for X-rays .
According to Ivory Coast team spokesman Eric Kacou, X-rays revealed the injury was "a fracture in his right arm." Teammate Kolo Toure says Drogba told him “the World Cup is finished” but coach Sven Goran-Eriksson indicated the star striker’s status for the tournament is still up in the air.
England captain Rio Ferdinand was also injured in training today and has already been ruled out of playing in the World Cup. Ferdinand, a 31-year-old centre back who plays for Manchester United, hurt his left knee while defending against striker Emile Heskey in England’s first training session in South Africa and was later seen hobbling out of a hospital on crutches.
According to the Football Association, Ferdinand will be replaced by Tottenham defender Michael Dawson, who had been cut from England's 30-man preliminary roster.
Drogba and Ferdinand are the latest additions to a list of marquee players who could, or will, miss the World Cup. Germany’s Michael Ballack, England’s David Beckham and Ghana’s Michael Essien have also been sidelined by injury.
In 32 Premier League games with Chelsea this season, Drogba scored 29 goals to help the Blues win the league championship.
Ivory Coast won the friendly, the final tuneup for both teams, 2-0. Drogba, on a free kick that deflected off Tanaka, and Toure scored for the winners.
Ivory coast opens the World Cup June 15 against Portugal, while Japan plays its first game of the tournament a day earlier against Cameroon.