The New Times (Kigali)

5 February 2013

Cote d'Ivoire: The 'Golden Generation' Fall Short Again

For being the overwhelming favourites to win the Afcon 2013 competition, Ivory Coast players maybe thought they would simply turn up and things work out themselves-how wrong they were.

Bookies odds and expert predictions are not right all the time--they can sometimes be misleading as the elimination of the Elephants at the quarterfinal stage would suggest.

A surprisingly brave but well-deserved Nigeria's Super Eagles 2-1 win crushed the Elephants' dreams of living up to their favourites' tag.

Didier Drogba and the rest of the Ivory Coast's 'golden generation' head home earlier than they hoped having come up short, yet again, in their quest to be crowned champions of Africa.

Drogba and co. were beaten by a team that showed more hunger to be not only in the next round but probably go all the way to the title, which would be their first since 1994.

Throughout the tournament, the Elephants have not been convincing, turning up in only one match, their second group game against Tunisia when they played some nice football and scored a couple of goals.

But going by their performances and attitude in the other matches; against Togo, Algeria as well as Nigeria, they deserve to be out.

Following last year's shock defeat to Zambia on penalties in the final in Gabon, 2013 was meant to be realistic opportunity for the continent's number one ranked country to redeem themselves but that won't be.

Even more painful for the Ivorians is the fact that this year's tournament was/is probably going to be the last for several ageing stars of the 'golden generation'-Drogba, Zokora, Kolo Toure, goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, Boka and a few others.

For Drogba, who turns 35 next month, this was the last opportunity to lift the Africa Cup of Nations, but all the hype and hopes ended in yet another disappointment.

Drogba was in the sides that lost on penalties to Egypt in the 2006 final (in Cairo), that finished fourth (Ghana 2008), that were knocked out in the quarterfinal (Angola 2010), and that lost on penalties to Zambia.

While Nigeria would fancy their chances against Mali in the semi-final and whoever they meet in the final between Ghana and Burkina Faso, for Ivory Coast, the Nations Cup, the title the 'golden generation' craved for, has yet again proved agonisingly out of reach.

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