AFCON: Golden Generation’s last shot at gloryby MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations offers the remaining “Golden Generation” of Ivory Coast one last chance to win Africa’s prime football tournament.
Perennial favourites over the last numerous editions, The Elephants are perhaps the best example good players do not necessarily make a good team.
They have since the turn of the millennium entered Africa’s prime football tournament carrying the favourites tag, only to fall short when it mattered most.
Despite winning the edition of the tournament back in 1992, the country saw an outpour of talent during the first half of the 2000s with the majority of this generation consisting of talented players who enjoyed, and still enjoy considerable success in Europe.
Led by Didier Drogba, who will however not play a part in this edition, an abundance of talented players found contracts in the biggest football stages in the world where they went on to win titles.
Boubacar Barry, Arthur Boka, Aruna Dindane, Emmanuel Eboue, Gervinho, Bonaventure Kalou, Salomon Kalou, Kader Keita, Aruna Kone, Siaka Tiene, Cheick Tiote, Kolo and Yaya Toure as well as Didier Zokora are among players that have earned fame and fortune with their European sides.
But African glory has eluded them in the famous orange of The Elephants.
Of the above players, the Toure brothers, Kalou, Gervnho and Tiene and Tiote have been called up to Ivorian side in Equatorial Guinea.
While the 2015 edition of the AFCON begins on Saturday, offers the generation, captained by the younger of the Toure brothers, Yaya, the last chance of ending their ceaseless wait to lay their hands on Africa’s most prized football trophy, analysts are skeptical.
Retired Zimbabwean footballer, Alois Bunjira, now a respected pundit, foresees history repeating itself.
“I have always believed in The Elephants and they have always disappointed,” Bunjira said.
“They go back this time with a strong team once again. This time, it is the last chance for this Golden Generation. Unfortunately, this time around, most teams in Africa are great and there are no pushovers,” the former Zimbabwe Golden Boot Award winner said.
While the previous Ivorian sides have teamed with brilliant individuals, Christopher Dube, an African football expert, believes the current side has personalities that can help the elephants flatten break their hoodoo.
“In Lacina Traore and Wilfried Bony, they have the firepower to score themselves a trophy. Doumbia Seydou has been in fine club form,” Dube said.
He however has two qualms-the team’s defence and its captain, who ironically has just been named Africa’s best player.
“The backline is a major worry. Also, Toure’s performances for the national team have not been good. If he has a good tournament, they will reach the semifinals at the very least,” Dube added.
In Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast are pooled alongside four time winners Cameroon, perennial bronze medalists Mali and tricky Guinea in an unpredictable Group D.
Johannesburg-based analyst Mduduzi Vundla is confident they can negotiate their way out of the pool.
“They are always favourites with their galaxy of stars. This time I have my money on them going all the way,” Vundla said.
– CAJ News
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