By Paul Kennedy
Ivory Coast came back from 2-0
down in the shootout to beat Ghana, 9-8, and win the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. It came down to the 11th round when Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry
stopped his opposite number, Razak Brimah
, and he converted his own spot kick to give the Elephants their first title since 1992.
Here are three
takeaways from this year's Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. 1. The agony of the shootout.
The lasting image of the shootout
will be of Ivory Coast star Gervinho
sitting on the sidelines with his feet up and his back to the shootout.
Two times in the last decade,
Ivory Coast made it to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations only to lose in a shootout after the match ended 0-0. The Elephants lost to Egypt in 2006 and they lost to Zambia in 2012 when Gervinho
missed his spot kick. This time, he wouldn't have to take a penalty kick. Coach Herve Renard
subbed him shortly before the end of overtime.
stressful," said the Roma star. "It was hard to watch, because penalties are luck. I was stressed, I had so many bad ideas in my head. To miss out on this title again would have been so
Ghanaian star Asamoah Gyan
had also been substituted in stoppage time at the end of overtime. Three years ago, Gyan quit the Black
Stars after receiving abuse from fans following his penalty miss against Zambia in the semifinals of the same tournament at which Gervinho missed. Gyan, who had also missed a penalty kick against
Uruguay that would have put Ghana into the semifinals of the 2010 World Cup, later returned to the national team -- but stopped taking penalty kicks on the advice of his late mother.
2. Boubacar Barry is unlikely hero.
Barry wasn't supposed to playing in the final. He debuted for Ivory Coast in 2000 but lost his starting job
during Africa Cup of Nations qualifying to Sylvain Gbohouo.
The 26-year-old Gbohouo was excellent for the Elephants in the finals, but he suffered a thigh
injury and had to be replaced for the final.
Ivory Cost trailed 2-0 in the shootout after Wilfried Bony
missed the first two attempts, but Barry gave Ivory Coast new life when Barry stopped Afriyie Acquah
"This is the compensation
for everything we've done since 2000," said Barry. "It's for the good of Ivory Coast. I thank everyone who's contributed to the national team since 2000. They made it possible and we've finally
received our reward."
Barry, 35, said he was not disappointed about losing his starting job. "If you're called to represent the nation you need to come without hesitation," Barry said,
"even to sit on the bench. It's not been easy but I've worked hard and reaped the rewards." 3. New generation takes over.
not the Ivory Coast and Ghana teams we've been used to seeing. Ivory Coast great Didier Drogba
retired from international soccer after the 2014 World Cup. Ghana
coach Avram Grant
left out Michael Essien
, Kevin-Prince Boateng
and Sulley Muntari
from the Black Stars squad.
A new generation of stars has taken over. Ivory Coast's Serge Aurier
is only 22 and already regarded as one of the best outside backs in the world. Up front for the Elephants, Gervinho is still only 27, and Bony, sold from Swansea City to Manchester City over the
January transfer window from $40 million, is only 26.
Ghana's Christian Atsu
, 23, was named the tournament MVP, while fellow Black Star Andre Ayew
, already a veteran of two World Cups at the age of 25, won the top scorer award. TRIVIA.
shootout wasn't the longest in an African final. In 1992, Ivory Coast won its only title when it beat Ghana, 11-10, in a 12-round session. Feb. 8 in
Bata Ivory Coast 0 Ghana 0 (Ivory Coast wins 9-8 on penalty kicks). Ivory Coast --
Tiene (Kalou 116), Aurier, Kanon, Bailly, Y.Toure, Serey Die, Gervinho (Tallo 122+), Gradel (Doumbia, 67), Bony Ghana --
Brimah, Afful, Boye, Mensah,
Baba, Wakaso, Acquah, Gyan (Badu 121+), A.Ayew, Appiah (K.Ayew 99), Atsu (Acheampong 116). Att.: