Annointed champions of the 2013 AFCON even before the competition kicked off 19 January, the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire may have had the golden age of their football suddenly extinguished by long-time soccer adversary, the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
In their quarter-final encounter here Sunday, the Ivorians, the highest rated Africa nation by FIFA in its monthly ranking, waited until the final whistle before realizing that it is 'au reviour' to Africa's biggest sports event, the African Nations Cup finals, currently on in South Africa.
Unbelievable, fans back home -- whether in Abidjan, Bouake, Yamoussoukro or any other community for that matter -- the Ivorians have been sent packing 2-1 by their foes, Nigeria.
It’s also 'good bye Cote d’Ivoire, good bye Didier Drogba' (which In French translates to 'Il est bon bye Côte d'Ivoire, au revoir Didier Drogba”, for the great former Chelsea of England pearl.
This may also signal the retirement of the golden generation of Ivorian football.
As their name suggests, the Super Eagles were indeed super, reports a PANA Correspondent, who reported that the relatively your Nigerian players matched the Ivoirians super stars skill for skill, man for man, and tactics for tactics.
So devastated were the Ivoirians that they did not show up for the post-match press conference.
On the two occasions Nigeria won the African Nations Cup, Cote d’Ivoire had been one of their victims.
It is now left to be seen whether they will follow the same pattern in 2013. To do that, the Super Eagles will have to beat the Eagles of Mali on Wednesday in Durban.
PANA reports that on Sunday, the half capacity crowd really had a good return for their money as both the Super Eagles and the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire played to the summit, a show case of the best that African football can provide, undoubtedly the best match of the tournament so far.
The Super Eagles surprised everyone, especially those who had written them off before the match.
The Stephen Keshi-tutored team exhibited it all -- crisp passes, absolute command of the ball, intelligent passing of the ball, skilful dribbling and occasional sharp shooting.
Just as everyone was thinking the first half might end goalless, Emmanuel Emenike received the ball from a free kick and released a 'rocket' past goalkeeper Bary and the stadium roared in salute of the goal.
The Ivoirians will not let go easily. They fought back gamely as the second half resumed and had Cheik Tioté nod in the equalizer.
The Nigerian team picked up the gauntlet, determined more than ever, they began to distribute serviceable passes and running rings round the Ivorian defence.
Their efforts paid off in the 78th minute, when home boy, Sunday Mba of Enugu Rangers, in an amazing run through the Ivorian defence, turning them into shreds before releasing the winner for Nigeria!