The Elephants Confirm #AFCON2017 Holder’s Curse

This was originally posted here.

The fallout from Cote d’Ivoire’s dismal failure at the African Nations Cup finals in Gabon has already started with veteran Salomon Kalou announcing his retirement and coach Michel Dusseyer on the brink of the axe.

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Cote d’Ivoire players meditating towards the start of the game

When it mattered, The Elephants could not muster a victory and again looked below par in their 1-0 loss to Morocco on Tuesday night that sealed their fate.

It is the fourth time in a row that the holders will not appear in the quarterfinals of the subsequent tournament in defence of their title, but in truth the West African side have looked a shadow of their former selves right through the competition.

They laboured to a 0-0 draw with Togo, had to twice come from behind to draw 2-2 against DR Congo and were limp again in defeat to Morocco.

The latter two sides were much more enterprising and deserving of their quarterfinal places and there will now be much soul-searching for the Cote d’Ivoire side as they try to understand the reasons for their failure.

“I am disappointed,” Dussuyer said. “My objective has not been achieved. My first objective was to make it past the group stages and the second one was to defend the title but it has not been done. I am disappointed today.

“I assume responsibility. We can go on about whether this or that should have been done or not. I know that the debate will take place.”

But while the Ivorians wallow in disappointment, it is yet another triumph for the man who took them to the title two years ago, Herve Renard.

The Morocco coach overcame an unlucky first match defeat to DR Congo to lead his side to consecutive victories over Togo and now Cote d’Ivoire to storm into the quarterfinals, where they will meet one of Ghana or Egypt, with their opponent to be decided on Wednesday evening.

“I feel very good. Congratulations to the players. They did well tactically. They did not do well technically. The pitch is very difficult but at the end when you are winning the game 1-0 against the African champion of course I am very happy,” Renard said.

“I think that my feeling was that I was very lucky in this Nations Cup. I do not know why. There is one spirit. I know where it is coming from. We have to continue. We have to go far.”

Renard said he gave his side a rocket at the halftime break after they allowed the Ivorians two big chances in the opening period.

“I told the players during half time that if we continue like that we shall go out. It was not enough in the first half. We were scared of Ivory Coast. When you are scared of your opponent, you cannot achieve anything.”

Renard also has sympathy for his former side and their coach Dussuyer.

“The objective was not to knock Ivory Coast out of the tournament. I want to remind you that this conference is not a court. I have known Dussuyer for a long time,” Renard said to reporters.

“You have to show politeness to Dussuyer. I was in the same situation. At the same time, you were the same people dancing. Be polite with him because later, you were the same people dancing with me.”

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