Ivory Coast striker Lacina Traore, who played few minutes during the Elephants’ quarterfinal clash with Nigeria on Sunday, told supersport.com his side didn’t lose because they underestimated the Super Eagles but rather because the Nigerians were superior.
The all-West African cracker ended 2-1 in favour of the Super Eagles, who are now through to the semifinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
“We made serious preparation because we knew playing Nigeria would be tough but once on the pitch Mikel Obi and his mates quickly seized the midfield, cutting off the link to our front men. This happened for much of the first half, which hindered us from getting a foothold as soon as possible in the meeting,” Traore said.
The Anzhi Makhachkala top scorer refused to blame his captain, Didier Drogba, and reigning African Footballer of the Year ,Yaya Toure, both of whom local fans say failed to live up to expectation and caused their unexpected exit from the tournament.
“Drogba and Toure are great players. They did their best but the problem was that Nigeria were too much. They overwhelmed us, not just the two players alone. I can understand their (fans) anger but they have to blame the whole team and not just Drogba and Toure.”
Traore also gave kudos to Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi for his “creative and pragmatic” solution for the quarterfinals.
“Imagine, a number of sports pundits in Ivory Coast were saying this coach would not be able to come up with any solution to surmount the Ivorian hurdle but he did eventually. He was able to make our team sterile, visionless and stupid. He was creative and pragmatic. At a time, on the bench, we were wondering if this was the team that drew 1-1 against Burkina Faso in the group phase.”
Where does the future lie for the country’s best footballer generation after failing once again to crown their long walk with a continental title? Traore says the future remains bright.
“When I hear people say it is all over for this team I feel sad. Players come and go but the team will be here. Even if Drogba doesn’t win an Afcon title, it doesn’t me Ivory Coast will never be able to win the trophy one day.”