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Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Cote d'Ivoire's head coach Hervé Renard and players can dance

Cote d'Ivoire's head coach Herve Renard celebrates with his players after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata 8 February 2015.
Cote d'Ivoire's head coach Herve Renard celebrates with his players after winning the African Nations Cup final soccer match against Ghana in Bata 8 February 2015. Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Five things we learned from day 23.

  • Regrets …we’ve had a few

But then again … We hereby apologise. During the semi-final between Ghana and Equatorial Guinea in Malabo, we thought we saw helicopters hovering over the field of play, missiles being thrown at Ghana supporters and their players as well as riot police firing tear gas and baton charging the stands. We thought it only fair to report what was happening. However the man in charge of the Confederation of African Football, Issa Hayatou, didn’t like the approach from the review nor others. "The press always dramatise, particularly the western press,” said Hayatou. “The western media are simply here to perpetuate colonisation.” Really? This agenda is news to us. We just came to watch some football, not to take over the place.

  • We’re such a kid

The closing ceremony was presented to a half empty stadium before the final. This was a huge shame because there was lots of modern dancing, some lithe lads and lasses in traditional costumes, lots of hips and jiggly bits shaking. But then the lights went out and the fireworks started. On they went, louder and more explosive. Brilliant. We thought why don’t we just have 90 minutes of fireworks and then put two balls in a bowl and decide the winner that way.

  • There are lots of exciting things to do in Bata on a Sunday night

That can be the only reason why the 35,000 seater stadium in the city was less than half full for the final between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Here were two continental giants slugging it out for the crown. Little interest. Or maybe they knew it was going to be a rugged gruelling affair that would go to extra time. They should have come for the penalty shoot out. Oh, it’s a choker if you lose.

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  • It is not over …until you’ve won

Ghana were two nil up in the penalty shoot-out. Afriye Acquah squandered the kick to make it 3-0. The rest, as they say, is come back from the depths to prevail. The Ivorians won it 9-8 after Boubacar Barry saved the kick of his opposite number Razak Braimah and then got up and scored the winner. Barry is 35 and was second choice behind Sylvain Gbohouo for the tournament. But when he got injured, Barry stepped in and secured the trophy that he and his illustrious former team mates could never win. Barry will probably take this occasion to announce his international retirement. Oi, Hayatou is that good news enough for you?

  • Kolo is a mano and Hervé Renard can dance

While we’re on the subject of the final, which is logical because it was the focal point of day 23, it is time to big up the elder Touré, our Kolo. He was one of the unfortunates who missed a penalty in Cote d’Ivoire’s shoot-out loss to Zambia three years ago in Libreville. So it showed tremendous guts to step up and take another one in a final. He scored this time. Gervinho was also one of those who missed on that mystical night in Libreville. He declined to take a penalty in Bata. In fact he sat by the side of the bench looking in the opposite direction. Oi, Gervinho, get your hair cut and man up like Kolo. The coach of Cote d’Ivoire celebrated with his boys by stripping off his signature white shirt and dancing bare chested in front of the Ivorian fans to celebrate their Cup of Nations victory. Renard, 46, is still in good shape. And apparently he’s coming along as a mover too. Wilfried Kanon, one of the youngsters drafted into the squad by Renard, said the coach danced à l’Ivoirienne.

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