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Ivory Coast's Unreal Journey: Absurd Route to the Championship Finale

Posted : 08 February 2024

Ivory Coast's journey to the final of the African Championship has been nothing short of extraordinary, defying all expectations and narratives. Their advancement to the championship finale seems logical given their hosting status, yet the path taken to reach this point has been so surreal that it transcends the realm of parody. The Elephants, despite facing humiliation in the group stage and hovering on the brink of elimination, have emerged as unexpected contenders for the title.

The early stages of the tournament witnessed Ivory Coast's struggles, including a devastating 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, a team they were expected to defeat easily on paper. The coach at the time, Jean-Louis Gassé, faced criticism, and the team's morale hit rock bottom. Gassé's resignation or dismissal became a point of contention, reflecting the tumultuous nature of the team's journey.

The turning point came when Zambia's draw against Morocco in the final group stage match favored Ivory Coast, allowing them an unexpected lifeline. The subsequent departure of Gassé and the interim appointment of Emmers Paa brought a breath of fresh air to the squad. Paa's positive impact was evident as Ivory Coast displayed resilience, overcoming Senegal and Mali in the knockout stages against all odds.

The narrative took an intriguing turn with the pursuit of Hervé Renard, a seasoned coach with prior success leading Ivory Coast to the 2015 African Championship. The FA's controversial decision to prioritize a white coach raised questions about racial considerations. The appointment of Paa, despite his relative inexperience, proved instrumental in rejuvenating the team's spirit.

In the semi-final against the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast secured a convincing victory, setting the stage for a historic final against Nigeria. The team's remarkable journey, marked by unexpected twists and a coaching upheaval, adds an element of unpredictability to the final. Ivory Coast, despite their tumultuous path, now stands on the brink of making history in a tournament where the script has been anything but conventional.


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