Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Underdogs still have a say

Published:Wednesday | February 4, 2015 | 12:01 AM

BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP):

Neutral fans may already be licking their lips over the possibility of a CÙte d'Ivoire-Ghana final at the African Cup of Nations.

In the battle of the strikers, it would be Wilfried Bony vs Asamoah Gyan. Playmakers: Gervinho vs Christian Atsu. Coaches: Herve Renard vs Avram Grant.

But hold on.

The African Cup has a tendency for the underdogs to surprise, and Congo and hosts Equatorial Guinea may yet spoil the party for one or both of the big guys.

CÙte d'Ivoire-Ghana decider? Neutral fans would likely love it. It would pit some of Africa's premier talent against each other, and give both teams a chance to end a long drought when it comes to the continental title. CÙte d'Ivoire and Ghana have probably been Africa's best teams over the last few years, but it is 25 years since either won.

Both know the danger of an underdog. CÙte d'Ivoire lost the 2012 final to big outsiders Zambia, among their surprise losses in two finals, a semi-final, and two quarterfinals in the last five editions. Ghana also fell to Zambia three years ago, in the semi-finals, and lost to Burkina Faso in a big shock in the last four in 2013.

That means CÙte d'Ivoire's semi-final today against Congo, and Ghana's tomorrow against Equatorial Guinea, are not foregone conclusions.