South Africa 2013, Drogba’s last chance!!!
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations will certainly be the last chance for Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba to lift the trophy that has eluded his illustrious career.
The 34-year old striker has made no secret of his desire to retire from international football after the 2014 World Cup.
Having won everything at club level, the Ivory Coast captain hopes to add the Africa Cup of Nations title to his trophy cabinet before retiring in order to relieve the pain of the past failures
The Shanghai Shenhua striker has suffered so many heart breaks with his national team since his first appearance in 2002.
However, it was not until the 2006 tournament in Egypt where Ivory Coast emerged as a prominent force in the tournament.
Drogba who had just steered the team to pick up their first ever World Cup ticket knocking out favourites Cameroon was hoping to repeat the feet in Egypt.
After knocking out Cameroon at the quarter finals ( 1-1 ; 12 pen 11) and Nigeria at the semis, Ivory Coast seemed to be on dreamland when they face Egypt at the finals with the trophy in their sights.
However, a resilient Egypt side under the stewardship of Hassan Shehata defeated the Ivorians 5-3 on penalties after a goalless game. That was the start of a long history of disappointment for Drogba and his team mates.
Two years later in Ghana, Drogba remained the most feared striker on the continent, so no doubt Ivory Coast remained the bookmakers’ favourites to lift the trophy.
It was the same old story for the Ivorians who had cruised through to the semi finals only to crash out in dramatic fashion against Egypt 4 goals to 1.
Was Drogba becoming the biblical Moses?
Despite these setbacks, Ivory Coast still had arguably the best team on the continent as the FIFA rankings during these years claimed.
But 2010 did not prove a different story: after a perfect record that saw them secure a scond consecutive World Cup ticket, the Elephants were tipped to have an easy ride over their opponents at the Afcon.
Drogba and co however found the favourites’ tag too heavy to carry and crashed out at the quarter finals to Algeria 3-2 after leading twice in the game.
As usual, Drogba and team mates picked up themselves to step up another challenge in the 2012 co hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
This time, there was no beating around looking for the competition’s favourites-Ivory Coast were out rightly the best after Cameroon, Nigeria and the holder of the last three editions Egypt all failed to qualify for the competition.
Who else could stop the Elephants? A perfect ride to the finals without conceding a goal meant they were just 90 minutes from lifting the illusive trophy once again with only surprised package Zambia standing on their path.
Drogba squandered a glorious chance to put his side ahead when he blasted a penalty wide above the sky to keep Zambia in the game. With both sides failing to find the back of the net after extra time, Zambia went on to claim the title on penalties 8-7.
So the same old story continued for Drogba and his team mates.
As Drogba and team mates will all acknowledge, history will only remember winners and not losers so they must win this trophy to show prove of their dominance on the continent.
2013 or never?
It is undoubtedly the last chance for Drogba and some of his team mates whom time is against.
Even the former Chelsea striker recently admitted that ‘It in undoubtedly my last tournament (Afcon). At some point in time we must learn to leave the stage for others. After the 2014 World Cup, it will be ideal for me to retire’.
With the Chinese League over, concerns have been raised over the striker’s form before the Africa Cup of Nations but his performances against Senegal (4-2,2-0) and recently against Austria (3-0) is reassuring that he still possesses his goal instincts,
2013 will be his last chance and what a better way to bow out of the international scene if he succeeded in lifting the trophy… Wait and See.