February 10th, 2012
07:45 PM ET

Best of Africa? Ivory Coast and Zambia clash in final

Ivory Coast and Zambia will be trying to get their hands on the Africa Cup of Nations trophy.
Ivory Coast and Zambia will be trying to get their hands on the Africa Cup of Nations trophy.

Sunday sees the final of the Africa Cup of Nations between the Ivory Coast and Zambia and I can’t wait to see these two great sides battle for the trophy.

Ivory Coast were my pre-tournament tips to come out on top, but I always believed Zambia would be tough to beat so their appearance in the final is no surprise to me.

Many people are labeling them as underdogs, but I don’t believe that to be the case. They are a tough and well-disciplined side and Frenchman Herve Renard must take his share of credit.

He’s in his second spell in charge since 2008 and unlike many foreign coaches, who just come in for five or six games, he’s provided stability and good leadership for the squad.

I’ve played against Zambia for Nigeria and they have a host of good quality players, but their key man for me is their captain and star striker Christopher Katongo. He’s a machine!

Give him half a chance and he will make you pay so the Elephants will have to be on their toes.

The other motivation for Zambia is the terrible tragedy which befell their squad in the 1993 air crash in Gabon. It happened on the coastline near the venue for the final in Libreville and it’s one of those strange coincidences that make one feel that fate could be on their side.

Having said that, I am sticking to my prediction for Ivory Coast to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time. They have a strong defense and central spine to their team, with Didier Zokora and Yaya Toure working so hard in midfield.

I’ve also been so impressed by Arsenal’s Gervinho, who scored the winning goal in the semifinal against Mali. With Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou offering such a threat on the other flank, I believe their wing play could prove the key to a victory for the Elephants.

If they can supply Didier Drogba with good service he will surely deliver. With his ability in the air, his pace and power, Drogba is such an influential player for the Ivory Coast and as their captain will be desperate to get his hands on the trophy for the first time.

The tournament will be staged again in 2013 after just a year’s gap but at the back of his mind will be the thought this could be his last chance to win the Africa Cup of Nations with his beloved country.

My real hope is for a great game to showcase African football and may the best team win !

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. mohammed

    hope ivory coast win and lift the trophy Drogba is the king as always

    February 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  2. N'Dri FAE.

    Cote d'Ivoire can't play football.Forget it I see Zambia beating them tomorrow and in fact the likes of Didier,Kolo and Yaya Toure are just spent force.Shame on Cote d'Ivoire......

    February 11, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Reply
  3. Jabulani Mweemba

    With all the respect to the Elephants but this trophy is for our fallen heroes. Its time for their spirit to rest. We are about to connect the old and new team.Once this happens of which will, Africa and the World beware!!!
    Jabu, Germany.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Reply
  4. Hippy hoops

    Yo yo yo happy hobos!!!
    My money is on Zambia because they are solid at the back but can counterattack really well. Mayuka and Katongo are very talented players.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  5. Michael Anakwe

    The two finalists are worthy champions. the constellation of disciplined stars with an amazing tactical display which is what the Didier Drogba led elephants of Cote d' voire represents, a side that is yet to concede a goal after five matches against a very determined,youthful and equally motivated Chipolopolo of Zambia will certainly set up one of the best finals of ANC. I can't wait to watch and witness the new Champions of Africa after nearly a nearly of the Pharaoh's dominance. I think the duo of capt. fantastic katongo and Mayuka and gang will offer a stiff and sizeable challenge to Didier, Gervinho and the toures. Besides my heart goes for the young guns of Zambia but my guts tells me that experience will carry the day. An impressive tournament without the regular giants!!!

    February 11, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  6. derrick

    its so sad i cant see the african cup if was any thing eles espn . fox would have shown it

    February 12, 2012 at 2:09 am | Reply
  7. Muma

    life is unpredictable...but Zambia is doing the impossible,it can carry the day.

    February 12, 2012 at 6:04 am | Reply
  8. edward matekwa

    it's surely Zambia's time...n rightly so...and the !!gods are in their favor

    February 12, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply
  9. Pergrey

    Shapa ZAMBIA Shapa
    am now a ZAMBIAN CITIZEN
    am out of MALAWI

    February 12, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Reply
  10. charles

    Zambia for sure.These Katongo led team is full of heart. Look at their dimunitive size against the rest. yet they take it to them. Ivory coast just has a horde of players plying their trade in europe, their cohesion is not beyond reproach. Go Zambia.

    February 13, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
  11. N'Dri FAE.

    Now you the fans of Ivory Coast national soccer team should beginning to take me serious when I make predictions.i did predict that the likes of Yaya,didier and co are just jokers and when it comes to the real thing,they will be caged and tossed around.

    Celebrate the new super power of Africa Football,Zambia impresed me alot and every soccer loving fan out there will certainly agree with me.

    February 13, 2012 at 12:25 am | Reply
  12. chabala

    congratulations the Copper bullets.I knew from the word go that Zambia will carry the day. Being experienced in the game of football to me does not matter. Teyapa lelo tuli ba Champion.Shame upon those people who regarded Zambia to be underdogs.God bless Zambia. Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply
  13. Jerry Omara

    As a BANTU am proud of the Chipolopolos, Mayuka am hoping to meet you again at our barbers shop( fine boy corner) n Bern..This was great and unity was seen n you..Ivory trade should be burned n Africa..thats the messegeto the world..

    February 13, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
  14. Lyamba

    Football insnt all about experience, but, discipline, determination, cordination. The likes of Katongo, Mayuka, Felix, Isaac, and Kalaba should be encouraged. Ivory Coast had more experienced and good players, but lacked enthusiasm.
    No (CCCC) CORDINATION WITHOUT CO-OPERATION CAUSES CONFUSION. Not where Zambian players were said to be good starters but poor finishers.
    Wel done boys!

    February 14, 2012 at 8:37 am | Reply
  15. Eazy E

    Watch out the space, Zambia is now going to were it belongs, top 5 in Africa.Who said that Zambia are underdogs. No way. Zambians do not have to play in top Europeans clubs to be the best. Just look at the team that perished in 1993, all of them were playing in Zambia and yet we were the top team in Africa them. GO ZAMBIA GO.

    February 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  16. Eazy E

    IT IS NOW TIME FOR ZAMBIA TO DOMINATE AFRICAN SOCCER.

    February 14, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Reply
  17. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Hearty congratulations to CHIPOLOPOLO BOYS.

    February 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  18. Menha

    The fisrt penalty at 70min was very unfair to the zambians. Thank God Drogba missed it. The third penalty taken by Bamba (Ivory Coast) during the shootouts was a shame on the linesman and the referees. There was totally no need to retake it. The heart and feelings of the referees were with the Ivory Coast team, but God was for the Zambian team. The referee for this march should be investigated. He didn't act professionally. Anybody could see that.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:21 am | Reply
  19. hiltonmbu

    I dnt remember an athletic elephant.its clear the smart chipolopolo won the Game before theY even played match.Welcome dear Elephant,wecome to the world of african made football. next time

    February 15, 2012 at 9:58 am | Reply
  20. sunday ngoma

    i'll tell this great story to everyone,my children,my granchildren,my neighbours,my friends coz i was there,I KNOW

    February 15, 2012 at 9:59 am | Reply
  21. badat

    Congratulation goes to the Zambia National Football team. I have never felt so proud to be a Zambian that I displayed the Zambian Flag on my front leaving room window. The team is made of players that play there football in Africa and this same team beat a team that had 90% of their players who feature in the English premier side. United Kingdom.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:36 am | Reply
  22. kpx

    referees always favour the favourites – look at Man United – they lifted trophy after trophy on disproportionate decisions – this is what makes our earth bizzare

    February 16, 2012 at 1:17 am | Reply
  23. tuffymacca

    Many ,many congratulations,makorokoto,amhlope to Chipolopolo,Copperbullets 4 eventually becoming African Champions.Indeed mighty Zambia had a date with destiny on Gabonese soil & duly delivered thus giving a final,fitting tribute to18 finest ,gallant ,fallen Zambians who died in midair disaster on April 27,1993 .The young ,energetic Zambian side made sure on Gabonese soil that they didnt die in vain by producing a valiant victory against the much vaunted Ivorian Elephants.Tribute,bravo,kudos to the astute ,meticulous French gaffer Herve Renard,King Kalusha Bwalya 4 his sound adminstration &foresight .Last but not least Congratulations too to the heroic people of Zambia,19 years ago Africa mourned with u&19 years later Africa is rejoicing /ululating with u !

    February 16, 2012 at 11:06 am | Reply
  24. jerome

    dider who??????he needs to rest now.its not about where u play,,its about who wants it the most n we got it.chipolopolo

    February 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  25. ONWUCHEKWA EZEJAHMERE

    A team that will not our African hope to the world stage and always shockingly fumble and disgraced will not be thought of to win the African continent`s cup.So Cote D`ivoire is not deserving of the trophy.So give it to Zambia who will never give us hope and could surprise the odds.

    February 17, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply
  26. tuffymacca

    I was extremely disgusted &appalled by the conduct of the Senegalese referee during the Final.Can the corrupt,inept CAF explain how they ended up with having a West African referee when the final consisted of a West African team & a Southern Africa team?????????.After all Zambia had beaten Senegal in the group stages 2-1.CAF wld like us to believe that Senegalese referee was impartial??????.That Senegalese referee was biased towards the Elephants,he made dubious decisions firstly by awarding that 70th minute penalty to Ivory Coast&that penalty retake after the Zambian goalie had initially saved the spotkick.African football is full of corruption &injustice most of the injustice has been meted out on Southern,Eastern&Central African teams by referees from North &West Africa.The corrupt ,docile CAF Boss ,ISSA HAYATOU has been presiding at CAF on a foundation built on North&West Africa hegemony.The progressive football pple in Africa would like to see the back of Hayatou who has been at the helm of CAF since 1988.It is certainly hightime 4 real football people like Kalusha Bwalya,Abedi Ayew,Anthony Yeboah,George Oppong Weah ,Bruce Grobbelaar,Danny Jordaan,Lucas Radebe to assume the Presidency at CAF .

    February 18, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply

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