It is the final of the African Cup of Nations tournament which has, for the past month, been running in the Equatorial Guinea and every soccer loving person in Africa and beyond brace themselves to watch Ivory Coast face Ghana in Bata on Sunday.
These are teams that were not seeded at all when the tournament started more than three weeks ago and it has been quite difficult to decide on how the match will go. While the teams have evidently not had much luck with the Cup of Nations itself, there is a lot to judge from when one looks at how the two team have performed individually and against each other.
Ghana seem to have had better luck with this, Africa’s most prestigious soccer showcase, having come away victors in 1963, 1965, 1978 and 1982. Despite winning only one tournament in 1992, Ivory Coast have appeared in the final two times in 2006 and 2012 which bodes well for them as it shows their most recent form. Both teams have had the pleasure of representing Africa at the World Cup three times starting in 2006 through 2010 to the most recent in 2014 which was hosted by Brazil. It is at this level that Ghana, formerly Gold Coast, seem to have an upper hand as they have gone as far as the quarter finals, where they were knocked out by Uruguay in the 2010 in South Africa. The Elephants, in all three World cups they have participated in, have been ousted during the group stages.
In 1965, the two sides were pitted against each other and the Black Stars thumped the Ivorians to carry the trophy home. The French Speaking Elephants were to have their payback in 1992 when the two met again in the final, which went to Ivory Coast after a marathon of penalties. The analysis of the teams’ head to head encounters does not reveal much except that the rivalry between the teams goes a long way into history. Of the close to forty encounters recorded, both teams have recorded fourteen wins and eleven draws.
Given all this, Sunday’s final between these two champions will be a chance for both teams to start on a clean slate and make new history.