Chelsea‘s Didier Drogba, the Ivorian captain, Arsenal striker Gervinho and Manchester City‘s Kolo Toure all missed penalties, and Yaya Toure and Salomon Kalou didn’t last 90 minutes after being substituted as Zambia stunned the Ivory Coast’s grip.
Ivory Coast had appeared to have an iron grip on this year’s Nations Cup. They did not concede a goal on their way to the final, but Drogba missed a 70th-minute spot-kick and fellow Gervinho and Kolo Toure then failed in the shootout, which Zambia won 8-7.
Ivory Coast’s most talented ever side has now lost two finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final in the last four tournaments, and seems destined to be remembered as a side which wasn’t the sum of its parts.
“It’s difficult when you take part in a competition and you don’t concede many goals and score nine goals … it is difficult,” coach Francois Zahoui said. “You feel the Cup is within your reach. I think we’ll take stock of this later on.”
Zahoui promised that any decisions on the future of the Ivorian lineup, with Drogba now 33 and Kolo Toure 30, would only be made later with “a calm mind,” but followers must be wondering if the group will ever end its drought – and if the change is needed.
“Sometimes they are just bad results and you have to accept them,” Zahoui said, defending the efforts of his team. “We know we could lose on penalties and the other team could lose. It’s Russian roulette, so it’s not really dishonorable. We have a lot of disappointment … but we’re not going to be moving players (out) because of that.”
Drogba sent his regular-time penalty way over the crossbar, Kolo Toure had his saved in the shootout and Gervinho’s miss was the decisive error that sealed another Ivory Coast failure. Kalou, meanwhile, was ineffective and left soon after halftime while midfield playmaker Yaya Toure had a subdued night after missing a good early chance and was taken off before extra time.
“We’ll have to see what has to be done. If we have to change some players we’ll see,” Zahoui said.