Ghana can win crown at home in 2017
So close was the African Cup of Nations 2015 final it had to be decided by the 22nd penalty kick in sudden death.
Each of the 22 players on the Estadio de Bata pitch on Sunday, had to take a spot kick as Gambian referee Bakary Gassamba tried in vain to separate the two sides.
This was after a whole two hours of scintillating action, goal scoring chances, tackles and cautions could not separate two of Africa’s best footballing nations in this contest that was played out before an estimated 25,000 audience at the facility, alongside another estimated hundreds of millions of viewers from across the globe.
It had turned out be a case of 1992 reloaded, and in the end, the arrogant Ivorians defeated Ghana in just about similar style as happened between the same teams at the Stade de Linite in Senegal, during that much talked about finale 23 years ago, in a contest that guaranteed the winning team Sh 150 million as prize money plus tens of millions more in bonuses.
The only difference between the two games was the sides in Bata needed two penalties less than those in Dakar to separate each other.
The Ayew siblings Jordan and Andrew were reduced to tears following the defeat just like their legendary dad Abedi Pele Ayew must have been after losing that final during that famous night in Dakar.
This had not been a game for the faint hearted. Even the hundreds of Ivorian faithful in Malabo on the famous night couldn’t gather the energy to celebrate afterwards.
“I think my time is up now with the national team but I will make a formal announcement after thinking over it,” Ivorian defender Kolo Toure said after the match.
This result ensured Herve Renard had won his second African title in three years through penalties, just like Avram Grant had again lost a Cup final on spot kicks.
The Coted’Ivorie golden generation of Yaya and Kolo, Salamon Kalou, Gervinho, Serge Aurier and Didier ya Konan have now forced themselves into the history books of African football. A total of 68 goals were scored.
Africa is now set for a year long break from senior national teams action, before this competition starts all over again albeit from the qualification phase.
Ghana will host the next edition in January 2017. Hope they can win it at home.