Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Côte d'Ivoire fresh and fruity, Ghana cagey as CAN final approaches

Gourcuff will stay on at Algeria despite a quarter-final defeat, Gervinho is back and full of energy, Gyan keeps the world waiting, Yaya Touré doesn't really shine and Côte d'Ivoire are juicy fresh on day 19 of the African Cup of Nations.

A Côte d'Ivoire fan
A Côte d'Ivoire fan Reuters/Mike Hutchings
  • Algeria don’t knock a good thing.

Christian Gourcuff will stay on as head of Algeria despite the disappointment of a quarter-final exit on day 16. The 59-year-old Frenchman was appointed last August and has been asked to carry on and prepare for qualifiers for the 2017 Cup of Nations and the 2018 World Cup. Algeria came into the 2015 tournament as Africa’s top outfit and lost 3-1 to Côte d’Ivoire in Malabo. Algeria Football Federation president Mohamed Raouraoua said he had no qualms about renewing Gourcuff’s contract. "There will be changes," said Gourcuff. "Some players are entering their 30s and are preparing to leave the team. We'll have to call up other younger players.” He added: “We already have a core of young and good players around which the future national team will be built.” Madjid Bougherra, who skippered Algeria at the tournament, announced his retirement after the defeat. He stressed the need for stability and the federation seems to have listened.

  • Gervinho is looking fresh and frisky for Côte d’Ivoire.

A veritable bag of energy is he. This wouldn’t by any chance be the same Kouassi Gervais Yao who was suspended for two games after a slappy fit with Guinea’s Naby Keita in the first game in Group D on day four. It truly is amazing what a two-game ban can do for your energy levels. Gervinho has returned to the side and scored two goals. The stoppage time coup de grâce in the quarter-final against Algeria and the second goal in the 3-1 semi-final victory over Democratic Republic of Congo on day 19.

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  • Ghana are playing it cagey over Asamoah Gyan.

Talisman, scorer, skipper. Cometh the hour… cometh the Gyan. Yes, we rather like that build-up. But will it all be in vain? On day 19, the hacks from Ghana assembled for the pre-match press conference with the team at the stadium in Malabo. They – and the rest of the world – were keen to know the state of play with Asamoah Gyan as he recovered from the challenge of Naby Yattara at the end of the quarter-final against Guinea. Assistant coach Maxwell Konadu said he wasn’t going to say what was going on. The review rather likes that approach. It’s similar to the metaphysical concepts advocated by the former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld. One good thing is that we know we will know at around 7.00pm local time on day 20 if Gyan knows if he will be stepping out onto the field. We, however, do not know the result.

  • Yaya Touré is at the tournament.

He is the African footballer of the year and yet there hasn’t been a game in which everyone has said: "Oh, that Yaya Touré he was the out-and-out star of that match." He scored a thunderbolt from the edge of the box to open the score against Democratic Republic of Congo. If the game had stayed at 1-0 then the emphasis would have been on the screamer. But within 60 seconds Eric Bailly lost his composure and handled a cross. Dieumerci Mbokani levelled from the spot. There were two further goals from Gervinho and Wilfried Kanon to secure the Ivorian victory. Knowing the Côte d’Ivoire coach Hervé Renard as we do, he’d prefer the limelight to be on the entire team.

  • The future is orange … the future is practical.

For either Equatorial Guinea or Ghana, Sunday’s final will be against Côte d’Ivoire. They play in orange and one of the sponsors of the Cup of Nations is the phone company Orange. This is fortuitous. The review has no evidence that the sponsor has leaned on any team to lose so that its brand can be loud and proud on the field, on the advertising boards and seeping into our very essence. Ghana or Equatorial Guinea will have something to say about a team playing in orange lifting the Orange Africa Cup of Nations trophy. But Côte d’Orange coach Hervé Renard clearly has the juicy appeal of the new. "I think we have a different style from the teams of the past," he pipped. "There are different players. Many of them were unknown before this competition. They worked very hard during the training camps and they showed me that they were able to play in the first 11. I think we have a good balance between the hard workers and the flair players. I think this combination is perfect."

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