Can 2024: “We’re worthless but we’re champions! », crazy night in Abidjan after the victory of Ivory Coast

At the final whistle on Sunday February 11 in the evening, the orange tide at the Alassane-Ouattara stadium in Ebimpé exulted

Can 2024: “We’re worthless but we’re champions! », crazy night in Abidjan after the victory of Ivory Coast

At the final whistle on Sunday February 11 in the evening, the orange tide at the Alassane-Ouattara stadium in Ebimpé exulted. Of joy and pride. A man hugs everyone he meets. “It’s wonderful, it’s wonderful! », he repeats, amazed. Around him, the stadium is a huge open-air nightclub. While the players run in all directions, from the field to the stands, the supporters dance, shout, immortalize the moment. Ivory Coast are African champions after beating Nigeria 2-1 in the final of “its” CAN. This is the third time in its history that it has won a star and, this time, it is at home.

In the stands as well as on the controversial lawn of the Alassane-Ouattara stadium in Ebimpé, joy overflows. Confederation of African Football (CAF) President Patrice Motsepe and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino walk onto the pitch alongside Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara to present the cup to Elephants captain Max-Alain Gradel. The Head of State wanted the “most beautiful African Cup of Nations (CAN) in history”? It was successful, to the taste of his compatriots.

At the same time, a few kilometers further south, “euphoria” was too weak a word to describe the atmosphere that reigned in central Abidjan. The “maso supporters,” as the most fervent among them are nicknamed, assured anyone who would listen that they “said it well! » However, the road has been difficult for the national team.

Cold sweat

After a poor group stage concluded with a 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, the departure of coach Jean-Louis Gasset, replaced by his assistant Emerse Faé, then the qualification at the last minute in the round of 16 thanks to the best-third rule. , the Elephants finally managed to win. Fans of suspense and twists and turns were served: in the round of 16, the victory was won on penalties against Senegal after an equalizer in the final minutes of regulation time; in the quarters, qualification was snatched away against Mali in extra time at the last second; in the semi-final against the DRC, the Elephants scored a rather lucky goal.

In the final against Nigeria, they continued to give their fans a cold sweat. Despite the Ivorian domination, the goal of Nigerian captain William Troost-Ekong (voted best player of the tournament) tensed up the 57,000 supporters in the stadium and their approximately 30 million compatriots. At half-time of the final, the Super Eagles led 1-0. But “discouragement is not Ivorian”, says the proverb, and the Elephants proved it once again.

The orange sea of ​​supporters roared when Franck Kessié equalized in the 62nd minute, exulting when Sébastien Haller, the darling of the selection, scored in the 81st. All that was left of rationality left the crowd to give way to a burning faith in the talent of “their” Elephants. The match was also broadcast in a number of churches where fans had prayed that morning.

At the end of added time, seven long minutes, the whole country exploded. In Cocody, a couple held up their matching rings, shouting that it was “their happiest wedding anniversary.” “We were crushed, humiliated, we sat on the ground!”, shouted a little further away a forty-year-old in ecstasy. But we got back up and we are champions! » Such a triumph after such a chaotic competition is a miracle, judged a large part of the supporters. “Côte d’Ivoire is a blessed country,” proclaimed a young man under the approving gaze of his neighbors. We were dead and we were resurrected. And, today, we take the cup. In what other country could we have seen this? »

Players expected for a parade

There were a few of them who had embroidered, colored or stuck a third star on their jersey even before the match. “It was our destiny, it’s our CAN,” laughed one of them. Ivory Coast has just won the third continental competition in its history after 1992 and 2015. But, at home, this one definitely has a special flavor. “We’re worthless, but we’re champions! », chanted the crowd with humor.

The Abidjan night echoed with cries of joy and the sound of horns from cars stuck in heavy traffic jams. But no matter, she was beautiful and intoxicated. No major clashes were reported by the police. “We are African champions, I’m going to spend my night in a club, we’re going to turn on the TV! That means we're going to party, we're going to pop the champagne,” announced Yves Aka, one of the supporters, at the end of the match. Many seemed to have had the same desire.

Above the Ebrié lagoon, fireworks lit up the center of the economic capital. Almost everywhere, clusters of dancers performed the choreography of Coup du hammer, Tam Sir's hit which became one of the anthems of the CAN and performed by the artist during the closing ceremony. Perched on a railing, a man shouted: “Ivory Coast is the sweetest country in the world! » Abidjan slept little and dreamed that the euphoria would continue for a long time. Monday, a public holiday declared by the authorities, the players are expected in the city to parade with their trophy and continue this unique celebration a little further.