The Ivorian and Senegalese strikers are each backing their national sides to make it to the 2012 Afcon final in Libreville, Gabon
Cote d’Ivoire’s Didier Drogba and Senegal’s Mamadoui Niang recently gave a joint interview to France Football in which they revealed their aspirations on the eve of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
As captains of their respective national teams, the two are unsurprisingly backing their own sides to make it to the trophy game in Libreville on February 12.
For his part, Drogba cited Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, and his Elephants as tournament favourites and insisted that his dream final is one where he emerges victorious, regardless of who Cote d’Ivoire face.
"As Egypt, winner of the three last editions, is not here, the tournament seems quite open to me. I see at least four contenders, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Ivory Coast. My dream final? The one that I’ll be winning of course," he joked.
Meanwhile, Niang was in agreement regarding Morocco’s chances of going far in the competition and cited them as ideal opponents for his Teranga Lions in the final, primarily because they are headed by his former manager at Marseille.
"I dream of a Senegal - Morocco final. First, because it would allow me to cross paths with Eric Gerets, but also because I'm sure it would be a very beautiful match."
Speaking about their status as favourites at the Afcon, the two stars displayed a humble attitude towards.
Niang said, "Senegal is not a bunch of individuals. Sure, there are very good strikers like Moussa Sow, (Papiss) Cisse or Demba Ba. But that's not all. In fact, during our qualification phase we only conceded two goals. This is proof that this team knows how to score, but also how to defend well.
Drogba referred once again to the Pharaohs, who are surprisingly missing from the tournament after three successive title victories.
"We must pay attention to the shortcuts. If Egypt has emerged as winners in recent editions, it is primarily because it had team spirit and not necessarily stars who scored many goals in Europe," said the Chelsea striker.
Touching in his relationship with Niang, Drogba made evident his respect for the Senegalese centre-forward and his appreciation for his skills.
"Mamadou Niang, he is part of the brotherhood of great strikers of OM. I'll always defend all these players that broke through in such a difficult club. We all know what that means. When you have success there, that earns you respect for life,” he explained.
“I remember his complicated debut at Marseille. I didn’t know him at the time but I managed to send him messages via common friends, encouraging him.”