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Football | Afcon

Didier Zokora © Backpagepix

Elephants’ exit shocks a nation



It is another sad day in Ivory Coast after the national team lost to Nigeria 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.

The streets were empty and silent, bars and beer parlours shut down as early as 8.30 pm, as planned post-match nationwide celebrations were brutally aborted by the Super Eagles.

A day later, the shock hasn’t dissipated. Men and women, young and old, purposely refused to discuss what happened far away in South Africa the previous day. It was akin to a nationwide disaster, reminiscent of the Elephants’ loss to Zambia in the final of last year’s edition.

Jean Jacque Tape, an Abidjan-based 37-year-old banker, was one of the few who opened up to supersport.com about their team’s exit and what it means to the country’s football.

“I think what happened yesterday (Sunday) brought great dismay to the entire population, not only to those who love football, “ Tape said.

“We felt we would walk over Nigeria and march to the final. That was the general feeling before the game. People already bought drinks and arranged for parties. After watching the first half, I had a presentiment it would be difficult because Nigeria were playing very well.”

The game ended in the early evening, a time when Ivorians usually troop out to catch fun in the noisy streets of the commercial capital Abidjan, mostly during the weekend. However, it turned into an awful Sunday, when people stayed back at home and forced themselves to bed.

“Nobody was outside after the match. I came out and saw a graveyard city. The few taxi drivers I saw were driving home to park their cars. We haven’t had such a sad day and sad moment for long,” Tape said.

Who to blame and what’s next? The young accountant said Drogba was responsible, like a number of fans have been saying, and that a new team should be formed.

“Look, Didier Drogba failed to inspire or drive the team. His performance from day one showed us that he was never prepared and that he had almost resigned to the fact that he would never win an Afcon title in his career.

“What I would advise is for the entire team to be dismantled and few out of the group should be selected to join a fresh generation for the future of the country’s football.”

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