Cote d'Ivoire's Didier Ya Konan: We didn’t underrate Zambia

In an exclusive interview with, the Hannover striker expressed his frustration and hope for the future after the Elephants lost the 2012 Afcon final to the Chipolopolo
By Kingsley Kobo in Libreville

Cote d'Ivoire striker Didier Ya Konan spoke to following the Elephants' loss to Zambia in the final of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. The Hannover player was obviously dejected following a 8-7 penalty shootout loss to the Chipolopolo after 120 minutes of normal time without a goal.

Ya Konan was open and honest as he answered's questions in Libreville following the dramatic and emotionally draining encounter. Another narrow miss, an inch away from making your Afcon dream happen.

Ya Konan: Terrible. I can’t still understand what happened and why. What a disaster. How do you feel personally?

Ya Konan: Frustrated, like everybody in the set up. We were supposed to be dancing and our people feasting by now, but the exact contrary is what’s happening, you can see for yourself. But Zambia played awesomely too.

Ya Konan: They played very well. Their defence and midfield were perfect. At some time, while watching from the bench, I felt we were playing against Germany.
: How come you guys underestimated a team that ousted the Black Stars of Ghana?

Ya Konan: No, we didn’t underrate them. They engaged us like we had thought wouldn’t have happened. Or, if you want me to put it this way, their counter strategy worked perfectly for them.

They played very well. Their defence and midfield were perfect. At some time, while watching from the bench, I felt we were playing against Germany Now, your supporters are putting the whole blame on your captain Didier Drogba for missing that golden penalty.

Ya Konan: Yes, I can understand their anger, considering how long we have been waiting for an Afcon title, but it happens, it’s football, anybody else could have fluffed the penalty as well. Drogba is not to be blamed but all of us. And back in Abidjan, so many people, including sport editorialists, say Drogba ought not to have played the final because, I quote “He never wins when he plays a final”, do you think the same way?

Ya Konan: No, not at all. Those who don’t play the game seem to have the ease to say things that are not logically true. If you were the coach would you keep your captain on the bench for the final because fans say his luck doesn’t shine during finals? We are at their mercy now because we didn’t win. In the first half, your side found it hard to get into the groove. Yaya Toure and Salomon Kalou were not really inspired, but after the entrance of Max Gradel, the Elephants’ engine began turning fine.

Ya Konan: I noticed that personally, but don’t forget the Zambian team is very combative. You don’t even know who to mark or who’s marking you. Our second half was better than the first, absolutely. What do you think will be the future of the squad? Will some older players retire to give way for fresh blood?

Ya Konan: I don’t think so, unless it stems from personal decision. Everybody here now can still play at least one more Africa Cup of Nations.