Drogba-less Ivory Coast finally achieve glory
21 December 2015, Nirapad News: In a drama-filled 2015, the Elephants of the Ivory Coast without the inspirational Didier Drogba finally delivered on a long-term promise to win a second Africa Cup of Nations title with TP Mazembe from DR Congo crowned African club champions for a fifth time.
Since reaching the 2006 final against hosts Egypt, the Ivorians led by skipper Drogba have promised so much at the continent’s showpiece football event only to fall short of repeating their first and only triumph in 1992.
It was then left to reigning African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure to get the Elephants past Ghana’s Black Stars on penalties in the championship game in February in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
Frenchman Herve Renard, who inspired Zambia to outscore the Ivorians in the 2012 final in Libreville, Gabon, was the man at the helm when the Elephants triumphed.
Manchester City midfielder Toure, 32, is in strong contention to be named Africa’s best player for a fourth straight year as he is on a three-man shortlist that also includes Andre Ayew of Ghana and Swansea City and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who features for Gabon and Borussia Dortmund.
The 2015 CAF Player of the Year will be announced at a ceremony in the Nigerian capital city of Abuja on January 7.
The 2015 Nations Cup itself will long be remembered for the ugly scenes involving last-minute hosts Equatorial Guinea in knockout matches against Tunisia and Ghana with the semi-final against the Black Stars disrupted by a riot, which left many fans injured and sparked off wide-spread criticisms around the world.
CAF president Issa Hayatou took exception to some of the reactions, accusing the western media of perpetuating colonisation.
“When something bad happens in Europe, they say it’s an error. When something happens in Africa, they begin talking about corruption,” blasted an enraged Hayatou.
“What happened in that (abandoned 2012) match between Serbia and Italy? It’s the same as what happened here, but when it’s Africa it’s different. It’s irrelevant that it’s a semi-final. It’s a football match. The western media are simply here to perpetuate colonisation.”
Hayatou himself also made history after he was appointed acting FIFA president after Sepp Blatter was suspended on account of the corruption probe in the world football governing body.
The 69-year-old Hayatou has been CAF president since 1988 and he will step down as FIFA helmsman when the presidential election is staged in February with South African mining magnate Tokyo Sexwale one of the candidates.
Africa will hope for better representation at next year’s Rio Olympics after 1996 Atlanta gold medalists Nigeria led Algeria and South Africa to book automatic qualification at the U23 Nations Cup in Senegal.
Nigeria coach Samson Siasia, who led Nigeria to the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, maintained adequate preparation will determine how far his team go in Brazil.
“If you don’t get it right, you’re in trouble at a major tournament like the Olympics. We still have a lot of tidying up to do over all,” admitted the former international striker
“I have to thank the players for what they have done but they should not let it get to their heads because we need to correct our mistakes and improve our game before the Olympics.”
In club football, TP Mazembe beat USM Alger 4-1 on aggregate to win a fifth Champions League, but they failed to reproduce the run of five years ago when they lost in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup.
Etoile du Sahel extended Tunisia’s dominance in the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup after they won a second trophy at the expense of Orlando Pirates from South Africa after their first triumph in 2005.