Ivory Coast win African Cup in shootout
BATA, Equatorial Guinea (AP):
Cote d'Ivoire goalkeeper Boubacar Barry saved the day, and then he scored the winner. The 35-year-old veteran blocked a penalty attempt from opposing goalkeeper Razak Braimah and then stepped up to convert his own to give the Cote d'Ivoire a 9-8 shoot-out win over Ghana yesterday in the African Cup of Nations final.
The match at Bata Stadium had finished 0-0 after 120 minutes. The Ivorians, who have lost two shoot-outs in finals in the last decade, failed to convert their first two penalties, but a string of must-score shots hit the target, including goals from Yaya and Kolo Toure and Salomon Kalou.
"When sometimes you win with your club, it's quite amazing," said Yaya Toure, who won the Premier League with Manchester City last season. "But with your country, it's unbelievable."
The Cote d'Ivoire, which won their only other title in 1992 also on penalties against Ghana, played this time without Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who has retired from international soccer. But the team still had Man City teammates Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure, a four-time African player of the year. Bony took the Cote d'Ivoire's first attempt in the shoot-out, but he hit the crossbar. Tallo Gadji also missed.
Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan, who started the final after sitting out the last match with an injury, was taken off just before the shoot-out. Gyan missed a penalty in the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals and then again in the 2012 African Cup semi-finals.
"I have nothing to say. The Ivorians are happy because they won a cup," Gyan said. "I don't have anything to say right now. It's past and gone."
Barry made a surprising start in goal for the Ivorians in yesterday's final. He was the goalkeeper between the posts in 2012 when the team lost to Zambia in a shoot-out in the final, but he started this time in place of the injured Sylvain Gbohouo.
Barry also saved a shoot-out attempt from Ghana midfielder Afriyie Acquah. Substitute Frank Acheampong missed his attempt.
After Barry's decisive penalty, Cote d'Ivoire coach Herve Renard spent several minutes trying to console Ghana forward Andre Ayew. Renard previously worked with Ghana's national team and knows many of the players.
In 2012, Renard coached Zambia to the title, beating Ghana in the semi-finals and Cote d'Ivoire in the final.
"Without the manager, we would have won nothing," Toure said. "He made things difficult for me. He told me if I didn't run, he'd kick me out. He's fantastic!"