Sierra Leone taste slice of Ivorian victory

09
Feb

* Ivory Coast campaign got off to a rocky start with Sierra Leone scoring first in the opening game in Abidjan played amid Ebola fears, 2-1 to Ivory Coast – group stage first leg.

* Ivory Coast, tightened their grip into second place of the group stage by thrashing Sierra Leone 5-1 on their way to the tournament.

* Ivory Coast ends 23 years wait for AFCON trophy 

Sierra Leone’s Group D opponent in 2015 qualifying stage, Ivory Coast claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title in 23 years after beating Ghana 9-8 in a dramatic penalty shootout in the final Sunday.

However, history repeated itself – the Ivorians last won the Cup of Nations title in 1992 when they edged the Ghanaians, also on penalties 11-10 after a goalless draw.

It took a total of 22 kicks to settle the outcome on Sunday after the Ivorians had missed their first two attempts.

The 35-year-old Barry, who replaced the injured Sylvain Ghobouo for the final, had been beset by cramp during the lengthy shootout, but mustered the energy to fire his kick past the unfortunate Braimah to spark wild celebrations by his team.

The Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) president Issa Hayatou also witness the dramatic shootout at the Estadio de Bata.

Ghana had looked set to win its first AFCON crown since 1982 when it took a 2-0 lead in the shootout after Manchester City’s new signing Wilfried Bony and teammate Tallo had failed to convert their kicks.

Frenchman Renard, the first man to achieve this feat, understood what the triumph meant to the winning nation.

“We dedicate this win to the Ivorian people,” he told gathered reporters.

“Football has this magic element in that it unites all the ethnic groups — all the people who perhaps don’t think the same way.

“Ivory Coast is more than delighted today and that’s the most important thing.”

Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire midfielder and captain) “I cannot express my happiness. When you win a title with your club, it is amazing but with the country, it is unbelievable,”

Four-time champions Ghana, who have not won the continental title since 1982, are coached by Avram Grant. The Israeli-led Chelsea to the 2008 Champions League final, but lost on penalties

Avram Grant also praised his beaten side, claiming that reach the final alone was a big achievement.

“We were the better team but we did not create enough chances… Ghana can be proud of this young team,” said the former Chelsea manager.

The Last Five winners, 2008 – Egypt -2010 – Egypt – 2012 – Zambia – 2013 – Nigeria – 2015 – Ivory Coast

By Alie Bittar 

THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2018

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