The Elephants’ “golden generation” have one more shot at continental glory when they take on the Black Stars in Bata on Sunday
After an extended period without winning the Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have the chance to finally be crowned kings of the continent once again on Sunday.
Despite boasting some of Africa’s biggest stars, neither country has won the tournament this millennium after flattering to deceive at recent competitions.
The Black Stars have not lifted the trophy since 1982, while Cote d’Ivoire’s sole continental success came in 1992 – courtesy of an epic 11-10 victory on penalties against Ghana.
However, with Herve Renard now at the helm, the Elephants have a coach experienced in winning the showpiece after guiding Zambia to success in 2012.
Ahead of Sunday’s final, Renard is hoping to draw on that experience – paying tribute in particular to his star names.
“I’m feeling every day the same way and same team spirit that we had with Zambia in 2012,” he told a news conference on Saturday.
“Of course, there’s always a different story with every team in football but I would like to congratulate my players because they have all put in a lot of effort in this Afcon, including the ones people would refer to as the big stars.
“They’re performing. They have forgotten their star status and put the team first and I’ve been reminding them that some of them would be coming to the Afcon for the last time and if they don’t win now, they will never do.
“I’ve told them it’s their last chance to win and I think it is motivating them as well. It will be a tough game on Sunday because Ghana is a specialist of the Afcon.
“They have played eight finals and this will be their ninth and in 1992, they lost to Cote d’Ivoire. But I can’t think even for one second about failing in the final.”
For Ghana’s Avram Grant, the final represents an impressive achievement in the 60-year-old’s first major tournament at the helm.
Prior to this year, Ghana had made the final just once in their last 11 attempts, with the former Chelsea and West Ham boss now backing his side to give their all in taking the last step.
“We’ve shown a lot of motivation up to now and we’ll show a lot in the final,” he said.
“We have seen quality players and quality football through this tournament but we can expect even more.
“There are a lot of good players in both line-ups and I think because of that we can expect a quality final.”
Grant may be able to name talismanic captain Asamoah Gyan in his side, the striker hoping to be involved after failing a late fitness test prior to the semi-final win over hosts Equatorial Guinea, although Renard is set to be without Cheick Tiote (ankle).