• Cote d’Ivoire have been rejuvenated since finding form when it matters most.
• Meanwhile, DR Congo manager Sebastien Desabre was left ruing missed opportunities in the defeat to Cote d’Ivoire.
Cote d’Ivoire midfielder Franck Kessie is daring to dream after inspiring his nation to the Cup of Nations final.
Kessie produced a Man of the Match display to secure a 1-0 semi-final win over DR Congo. Now he believes Cote d’Ivoire can achieve something special on home soil.
Kessie has been integral to the Elephants’ run, marshaling the engine room with power and poise. After narrowly scraping through their group, Cote d’Ivoire have ignited hopes of a ‘miracle’ triumph.
And AC Milan star Kessie is determined to deliver for expectant Ivorian fans. “When you have a crowd like ours, the best in the world, we must go all the way,” he declared after beating DR Congo.
That win followed Kessie’s honest locker room interventions during the group stage. “The defeat against Equatorial Guinea was a wake-up call for us. We took the opportunity to speak honestly with each other and take responsibility,” explained Kessie.
Cote d’Ivoire have been rejuvenated since finding form when it matters most. Kessie believes the final at President Alassane Ouattara Stadium gives added motivation.
“This stadium bears the name of our President, and we must honour it. We still have a long way to go. We should have a glorious history here, and it’s up to us to write the next chapter,” he said.
Victory on Sunday would spark ecstatic scenes nationwide. Nigeria stand in the way. Kessie’s leadership and authority could make the difference against Nigeria’s flair. If the Elephants achieve Afcon glory, Kessie’s midfield masterclass will have paved the way.
By fuelling Cote d’Ivoire’s miracle, the Panther has already etched his name into Ivorian folklore. Now Kessie wants to cement legendary status by winning on home soil.
Meanwhile, DR Congo manager Sebastien Desabre was left ruing missed opportunities in the defeat to Cote d’Ivoire.
Sebastien Haller scored the winner to deny DR Congo to have a stab at a third title.
“My first impression is disappointment, considering the course of the match,” said the Frenchman.
Multiple chances spurned in the first half proved pivotal. Cedric Bakambu had a goal harshly disallowed before Yoane Wissa wasted a glorious one-on-one.
“We didn’t take advantage of our momentum,” rued Desabre. “We tried to have all the offensive weapons to equalise, by changing the system, making substitutions, but unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Despite the heartbreak, Desabre praised the performance and effort of his Congolese warriors. He acknowledged they faced brilliant opponents in the Elephants.
“It must be recognised that there was a great team from Cote d’Ivoire facing us. It didn’t come down to much. We’re disappointed tonight. We could have achieved a better result,” Desabre conceded.
Attention now turns to securing third place when DR Congo face South Africa on Saturday.
“We are competitors, we need to quickly regroup. We have a match on Saturday to secure third place,” stated Desabre defiantly.
Reaching the last four capped impressive progress for DR Congo in Desabre’s first tournament. The Frenchman has moulded a youthful, dynamic team who could yet leave Cote d’Ivoire with heads held high.