The Ivory Coast’s so-called Golden Generation has once again failed to live up to the expectations of football betting news pundits after crashing out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations to unfancied Nigeria.
The Elephants, spearheaded by legendary striker, Didier Drogba, struggled to puncture a resolute Nigerian defence that held off Ivory Coast’s formidable strike force just enough to earn a 2-1 victory in the Afcon quarter-finals.
The result has shocked fans who wasted an in-play bet offer on the side, many of whom expected Ivory Coast to finally get over their heavy name tag of ‘favourites’ and claim the continent’s greatest international football trophy for the first time in 21 years (they won the Afcon 11-10 on penalties in 1992).
Indeed, the pain will be felt ever more so in the Ivorian dressing room, for this defeat ends an era of the so-called Golden Generation, a group of players destined to win trophy after trophy and put African football on the map.
Yet after five Afcon tournaments and two World Cups since 2006, this Ivorian generation leaves with nothing to boast of. Drogba and midfielder, Didier Zakora, have both played their last tournament for the Elephants, while even the formidable Yaya Toure suggested recently he will soon hang up his international boots.
It is disappointing yet not too surprising this team failed to win the 2013 Afcon, for they have never coped well under the pressure of being favourites and, despite boasting a large number of top-flight players in their midst, have struggled for consistency when major tournaments begin.
While Ivory Coast have stuttered on the big stage, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon have taken the baton of Africa’s major footballing force in the 21st century and impressed the rest of the world.
Sadly, we should expect no different should the Elephants make Brazil 2014 – stripped of form, spirit or precedent to guide them to glory – a dying generation further detached from its past.