Drogba's dream of African title dashed for good

RUSTENBURG Mon Feb 4, 2013 7:03pm IST

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba leaves the pitch after losing their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) quarter final soccer match against Nigeria in Rustenburg, February 3, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Ivory Coast's Didier Drogba leaves the pitch after losing their African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) quarter final soccer match against Nigeria in Rustenburg, February 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Kishore Pandey, 82, lies on a bed as his daughter, Usha Tiwari, holds him and a priest stands by them (L) at Mukti Bhavan (Salvation House) in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Waiting to die at Salvation House

The city of Varanasi is Hinduism's holiest city and many Hindus believe that dying there and having their remains scattered in the Ganges allows their soul to escape a cycle of death and rebirth.  Slideshow 

RUSTENBURG (Reuters) - Didier Drogba still has ambitions of competing at the next World Cup but his chances of national team honours to add to a glittering array of club prizes are now surely over.

His hopes fizzled out in meek fashion on Sunday as the Ivory Coast were eliminated in the African Nations Cup, losing 2-1 to Nigeria in the Rustenburg quarter-final.

The defeat and the fact the next tournament is not until 2015 means the 34-year-old has failed to match the achievements of other African greats Roger Milla, Abedi Pele and Samuel Eto'o who all won the Nations Cup.

Whenever the debate over the continent's best player is raised, Nations Cup failure can now be held against him.

Drogba remains one, if not the best, of the African exports to Europe with his achievements in eight seasons at Chelsea marking him out.

He has scored in a record four FA Cup final victories, won the Premier League three times and English League Cup twice while he finished his time at the London club by securing them their first Champions League title last May.

Drogba, who turns 35 next month, has also been the catalyst for the elevation of the Ivorian national side to the top ranked team in Africa with 57 goals in 94 appearances.

He debuted for them in 2002 and played in their first World Cup finals in 2006 and again at the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

They have also been to the last five Nations Cup, where each time they have been fancied to add to their only previous title in 1992.

Dubbed the 'golden generation', Ivory Coast's close-knit squad looked well-set each time through the group phase but then crashed out in the knockout stages.

Again this year, at Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace, the African title proved a bridge too far on a night when the lightning cracking in the distance as the game kicked off proved a portent of the shock to come.

Drogba's influence was limited in the game against Nigeria and the new Galatasaray player's role in the team could be coming to an end.

Ahead are six matches in World Cup qualifiers this year and hopes of playing in the 2014 finals in Brazil but Africa's biggest prize will never be his.

(Editing by Mark Meadows)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Commonwealth Games

SPORTS SHOWCASE

Fastest Man

Fastest Man

Interview - Usain Bolt says his best is yet to come.  Full Article 

After 23 Years

After 23 Years

Mexico is back on the F1 calendar in 2015.  Full Article 

NBA Update

NBA Update

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies to hometown.  Full Article 

Zidane Takes Charge

Zidane Takes Charge

Zidane makes mystery man Markkanen his first Madrid signing.  Full Article 

Rising Star?

Rising Star?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s pursuit of cricketing excellence.  Full Article 

Dismissing Reports

Dismissing Reports

I'm not heading to PSG, says ex-Juventus boss Conte.  Full Article 

2016 Olympics

2016 Olympics

Interview - World Cup will inspire Rio Olympics - IOC's Bach.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage