Elephant of Ivory Coast skipper Didier Drogba said the chances of he and other golden generation of players of the team ever lifting the African Nations Cup had gone for good after a 2-1 quarterfinal defeat by Nigeria on Sunday.
The trophy has eluded the country since 1992 in Senegal and the Elephants have twice
been runners-up in the last four editions, semifinalists in 2008
and knocked out in the last eight in 2010.
For a fifth successive tournament, the Elephants were tipped to win the
title with a squad boasting such talents as Drogba, Yaya Toure and
"It's over," the 34-year-old former Chelsea striker declared
But Africa's top-ranked team once again failed to live up to expectation and go home empty-handed.
The normally chatty Ivorians quietly left the turf and passed the media ranks without uttering but mere greetings.
Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry slipped through, head bowed, rubbing his teary eyes as he followed his teammates.
"It is heartbreaking," said centre-back Souleman Bamba, who deflected a
shot from Sunday Mba over his own goalkeeper for the Nigerian winner.
"We were the strong favourite, but unfortunately we didn't manage to do what we wanted to do, to win this competition.
"The start of the second half was very good, we've scored an equaliser,
but for some reason we didn't manage to make more goals and that's the
Subdued coach Sabri Lamouchi defended his team following the match at the rain-soaked Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.
"I assume all the responsibility," said Lamouchi, who only took over the job months before the tournament.
"We had our chances to take control of the match but we lacked simplicity in our build up," he added.
With the Nations Cup dream once again shattered, Ivory Coast are now turning their eyes towards the 2014 World Cup.
"When you are down you learn and you have to stand up," Bamba said.
"Tonight we are disappointed but we are not finished at all. We have the
qualifiers for the World Cup to play and we look forward to that."
Drogba agreed: "We now look ahead to the World Cup, with or without me."