The Elephants are Africa’s highest-placed team in the Fifa/Coca-Coca World Ranking and that standing has been confirmed by an efficient march to the final.
Five successive wins, nine goals scored and none conceded understates a steely determination for a talent-laden squad who have been in a similar situation in recent editions of the Nations Cup but failed to live up to their star billing. “We accept that the pressure is on us but we are staying calm as we consider this final,” reiterated coach Francois Zahoui after a hard-fought 1-0 win over Mali in the midweek semi-final.
Côte d’Ivoire are Goliath to Zambia’s David, with the Zambians making unlikely progress to the final for the first time since 1994. The underdogs had, by their own admission, set their target on a spot in the last-eight, but they have more than exceeded expectations after beating Ghana 1-0 in their semi-final on Wednesday to reach the final in Libreville. But iconic striker Didier Drogba said he was not surprised with the result or the identity of the opponent this afternoon. “They are tough, and we are going to have to work on the mistakes we made in our semi-final in the days before the match,” he said.
“It’s been a long wait to get to the final,” added 30-year-old Kolo Toure, another of the high-profile players in the star-studded Elephants line-up. “But it will certainly be a tough game against Zambia.” Salomon Kalou said it had taken a hard 18 months work to reach this point for the Ivorians, and they were not prepared to let the effort slip by unrewarded. “To get to this level has taken a lot of work and to get to the final shows what we can do.” — Fifa.com