Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Cote d'Ivoire: Hard Luck to Drogba and Co

opinion

At 34, Didier Drogba's chances of ever lifting the coveted African Nations Cup are all but over following last week's quarter-final 2-1 defeat against Nigeria.

Sabri Lamouchi's men made a positive start in South Africa after securing first place in their Group D following successive victories in their first two matches; Togo (2-1) and Tunisia (3-0).

Their performance against the Sparrow hawks of Togo was far from perfect, but the mastery shown by the Elephants against the Eagles of Carthage considerably reinforced their status as tournament favourites.

Their third clash was far from the same standard in a match with nothing at stake, but the Elephants' second string side still showed great character by fighting back from two goals down against an Algerian outfit that had already been eliminated.

And then Nigeria arrived in the quarter final. Against the Super Eagles, the Ivorian stars chocked. The famous Yaya Touré showed little inspiration in his role as playmaker in the midfield, Salomon Kalou failed enormously in his finishes and Gervinho failed to make his usual breaks at the heart of the adverse defence just as in often the case when he is wearing the Gunners' shirt.

To sum up the misery, the usually inspirational Drogba hardly troubled the Nigerian defence.

It was a huge disappointment for the former Chelsea star and two-time African Footballer of the year who has been after this trophy since 2006, when the Elephants lost to Egypt in a penalty shootout in the final.

The last time Ivory Coast won the trophy was in 1992 - the year they edged Ghana in penalty shoot-outs.

Since then, they have twice been runners-up in the last four editions, and were semi-finalists in 2008.

On all these occasions, they were tipped to win the title with a squad boasting such talents as Drogba, Yaya and Kalou.

It's now clear that the Ivory Coast captain cannot go on forever and after this latest disappointment, the big question looms: will he be around in Morocco in 2015 for yet another last shot at the Nations Cup? Only time will tell.

Seven years ago, when the Elephants lost on penalties in Cairo, it seemed inconceivable that the so-called golden generation of Drogba, the Tourés, Kalou, Didier Zokora and Emmanuel Eboué would not add the Nations Cup honours onto their colourful careers. Maybe the term 'golden generation' is a curse- a guarantee of no success. And if it is, and this highly talented team is forever unfulfilled, it will be very unfortunate.

The Ivory Coast coach, Lamouchi, insisted afterwards that he took full responsibility and it remains to be seen if he will hang onto his job after this latest setback.

For years, we have been saying surely this time the Elephants are going to go all the way but I highly doubt if that will be the case in Morocco.

And while the likes of Yaya, Kalou and Gervinho should all still be somewhere near their peaks in 2015, Drogba's days in Orange seem to be over following last week's remarks 'the team is now going to shift its focus on the 2014 Fifa World Cup with or without me."

In Morocco, the Elephants will be just another side with a handful of good players because as it is, the golden generation is over if it ever were in the first place.

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