The Arsenal winger Gervinho was on cloud nine a few days ago when he scored a brilliant individual effort to take the Ivory Coast in the African Nations Cup Final. They beat Mali 1-0 that day to set up an interesting match against the unfancied Zambia side.
But somehow the Elephants contrived to blow their big chance finally fulfil their promise, and they are going home as losers despite not conceding any goals at all in the regular 90 minutes of any game!
The Ivory Coast always had the upper hand until the usually reliable captain Didier Drogba blasted a second half penalty high over the bar, and then Zambia managed to hold them off until the end of extra time with the score still at 0-0.
So on to penalties… Both sides held their nerves as the numbers racked up without a miss, but by 7-7 it was certainly becoming squeakybumtime. Kolo Toure stepped up to put Ivory Coast back in the driving seat, but his weak effort was easily saved and Zambia had had their first chance to win the game. But No! the chance went as the ball flew over the goal and into the stands.
So Gervinho now had a chance to retake the advantage for his country, but the ninth-choice penalty-taker blasted it wide, and was then could only stand helplessly as Stophira Sunzu won the trophy for Zambia.
There will certainly be no cause for celebrating for the Ivory Coast, and Gervinho will now be coming back to the Emirates tomorrow with a massive disappointment, and perhaps his confidence dashed despite his semifinal heroics.
Wenger though doesn’t think he will be in contention to face Milan. The Frenchman said on Saturday: “He plays the final and you know what the rule is – 48 hours later he has to be back. I see him playing on Saturday, not on Wednesday.”
Wenger may now decide to give him a little longer to recover from his exertions – and his disappointment.
***Ivory Coast v Zambia Penalty Shoot-out***