The Ivorians defeated the Bissau-Guineans (2-0) in front of their fans in Abidjan on Saturday, January 13. The sporting and logistical challenges for the organizing country are enormous.
Ivory Coast’s “Elephants” successfully competed in the African Cup of Nations held on their home soil, beating Guinea-Bissau 2-0 in the opening match played on Saturday, January 13 in Abidjan.
Ivory Coast have started to progress in ideal fashion in a tournament where they have ambitions of honoring their favorite status to earn a third star after victories in 1992 and 2015 and break the organiser’s curse. Egypt has not won the CAN award since 2006 in Cairo.
It was against Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast in the final (0-0, 4 to 2). The modest “Djurtus” (Lycaons) from Guinea-Bissau certainly prevailed, still showing good resistance overall, but conceding two goals from Seko Fofana (4th) and Jean-Philippe Krasso (58th).
In 1984, the only other time Ivory Coast held the CAN, the tournament turned out to be a fiasco with elimination in the first round. The opening ceremony set the tone: in the Ebimpé stadium, the orange-decorated spectators were able to sing the official song of CAN with the band Magic System in a powerful atmosphere and take part in dance performances celebrating the national culture and certain previously built infrastructures. rivalry.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino received a standing ovation from the audience and said, “You are an extraordinary audience! Thank you for organizing the most beautiful African Cup of Nations.”
“A CAN at home means a lot, we are all aware of what awaits us, we have worked hard,” promises midfielder Franck Kessié, one of the stars of the team. “I would like to tell the Ivorian fans that we are all fighting for the same flag, we must be united. Let them do their best to support us, and we will use our last resources to give our best and make them better for our part. I am happy,” he added at a press conference .
The message was visibly received by fans who arrived in a joyful atmosphere at the Ebimpé stadium in the suburb of Abidjan on Saturday afternoon. Aïcha Fofana, with the Ivory Coast flag painted on his cheeks, who has been in his place since November, said, “We are very happy to have this CAN at home! We will not underestimate the opposing team, but we will win 3-1.” .
Kassoum Cissé, on the other hand, returned from France, where he lives, for a two-month holiday especially for the event: “This is the first time I will experience an opening match, all these people warm my heart,” explains the one who saw the “Elephants” beat Mali in the final on February 11.
“We will have to experience the event,” adds coach Jean-Louis Gasset, who discovered CAN at the age of 70. “My job is to turn this pressure into something positive, to give strength and confidence to my players. This should not hinder us.”
From an organizational perspective, the atmosphere in the maquis (popular restaurants and bars) and the streets of Abidjan has stepped up a notch since supporters arrived from all over the continent in recent days. The Ivorian government did not lack the means to organize “the most beautiful CAN”: $1.5 billion was invested in the construction or renovation of six stadiums, bridges, roads, hotels and CAN cities for the accommodation of teams.
The authorities definitely want to turn the page on the fiasco that took place at the Ebimpé Stadium, which hosted the opening match on Saturday, when the Ivory Coast-Mali friendly match was interrupted on September 12 due to the field getting wet due to the storm.
Around 20,000 young volunteers, 17,000 police officers and 2,500 stewards will be deployed for this month’s competition, and organizers expect up to 1.5 million visitors, particularly from qualified neighboring countries such as Mali, Burkina, Guinea and Ghana. Everything is in place for a celebration of African football.