CAIRO: Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba says lifting the African Nations Cup in Friday s final against Egypt is a matter of pride.
Drogba, wearing the captain s armband in Egypt, has been vital to his team s run to the final, notably scoring the only goal in their semi-final with Nigeria and the penalty shootout winner against Cameroon in the last eight.
“Quite simply, I d be really proud to win this Cup. Whether that s as a player or a captain, because a continental title means a great deal, he told a news conference on Thursday.
“It s enormous. It s a degree of recognition that comes just below that of the World Cup … But today, simply the fact of being in the final, is just happiness.
The Chelsea striker, who also scored in Ivory Coast s Group A wins over Morocco and Libya, said the captaincy had not changed his approach on the pitch.
“I try to stay as I was before, to keep talking, he said. You might notice (the armband) but it s just a piece of material and you don t need that to be able to speak your mind in a team.
Ivory Coast s French coach Henri Michel was delighted his young team, who will represent their country for the first time at a World Cup in Germany, had gained valuable experience in Egypt.
“We ve had a good run. Now there s the cherry on the cake – and let s hope we can place it correctly, said Michel, whose second-string side were beaten 3-1 by Egypt in the group stage.
“We re going to do everything to win this Cup, even though we know it ll be very difficult.
“But we ve shown character and discipline and on top of that, we ve got the kind of hunger and enthusiasm to move mountains.
“We ve proved we deserve to be at the World Cup, we ve proved we deserve to be in this final and now we want to prove we deserve to win it.
Drogba and Michel had different views on the Egypt FA s decision on Wednesday to suspend their hugely popular striker Mido for six months following a spat with coach Hassan Shehata.
“I think Mido will play. I think they are ready to fight, to do everything to win this game because they are playing at home, said Drogba, suspecting a U-turn by the Egypt FA.
Michel was more sanguine, saying: We know Mido, he can be a bit conflictual sometimes, but that s their problem. Reuters