Posted by News Express | 25 June 2014 | 3,039 times
Contrary to expectations, the Elephants of Ivory Coast, touted as Africa’s big hope at the Brazil 2014 World Cup, once more lived up to their reputation as underachievers last night, disgracefully crashing out after losing to lowly rated Greece in the final Group C played at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.
It was a match in which the West Africans, who started the tournament on a positive note with a 2-1 victory over Japan, needed just a draw to sail through. But rather than that to happen, the Ivorians allowed themselves to be overwhelmed and beaten 2-1 by the Greeks, thus drawing the curtain on the so called olden generation of Ivorian football that always disappointed when it mattered most.
Despite the presence of world acclaimed stars like skipper Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho, Ivory Coast became endangered from the three minutes before the break when Cheick Tiote lackadaisically lost the ball to substitute Samaris, who slotted the ball beyond goalkeeper Barry after a one-two with near-namesake Samaras.
Hopes rose for an Ivorian revival when hard-working Gervinho fed substitute Wilfried Bony, who expertly clipped in the equaliser in the 74th minute.
But the hopes were dashed when the Greeks, who needed to win to advance, were awarded a penalty two minutes into extra time. Giovanni Sio had upended Samaras inside the box and the striker stepped up to lash the spot-kick home and spark Greek celebrations.
With the ouster of Ivory Coast and the earlier booting out of Cameroon, hopes for a Round of 16 spot for Africa at the 20th World Cup holding in the land of samba now rest on Nigeria, Ghana and Algeria.
•Photo shows an Ivorian player in lamentation as the Greeks celebrate their victory . . . last night at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil.
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