Saturday, 7 February 2015 00:00
BATA, Equatorial Guinea (Reuters): Yaya Toure remains much of an enigma at international level but glimpses of his club form at the African Nations Cup is a major boon for Ivory Coast as they prepare for Sunday’s final.
“Yaya has never before got his level for the national team,” said coach Herve Renard of his captain after their 3-1 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bata on Wednesday saw the Elephants to their third final in 10 years.
“But he has worked, he has scored and he has played with a lot of determination. To have players like him, Gervinho, Wilfried Bony in the team is to work with fantastic talent. “The Ivorian side is one under reconstruction but these are the pillars,” added Renard.
The 31-year-old Toure has played at every Nations Cup since 2006, making his appearance at the finals in Equatorial Guinea a sixth. On top of that he has also participated at three successive World Cup finals.
But Sunday’s final against either Equatorial Guinea or Ghana presents his first chance at a winners medal with his national team, to add to Champions League success with Barcelona in 2009 – when he was played at centre back – and league winners medals in Greece, Spain and England.
He also scored the winner in the 2011 FA Cup final where Manchester City ended a 35-year wait for a trophy with a 1-0 win over Stoke City.
Toure’s record-breaking four successive African Footballer of the Year awards have all come on the back of his performances at club level but Renard hopes Ivory Coast will now reap a winning contribution from him too.
The testy Frenchman is the first coach to openly challenge Toure and the other ‘galacticos’ in the side.
A touchline tirade from the coach, occasionally directed at Toure when Renard feels he is not contributing, is something new for a player who, with many others in past Ivorian sides, had an untouchable aura.
The coach has taken him off in several matches after taking over last August in another departure from the norm.
But being treated like all others seems to resonate with Toure, who could finally produce the kind of contribution his country have been craving.
Violence halts African Nations Cup semi-final
Reuters: The African Nations Cup semi-final resumed after a break of over 30 minutes on Thursday as most of the crowd were forced from the stands amid violent scenes after missiles rained down from angry Equatorial Guinea fans.
Ghana supporters sought refuge on the pitch wityh their team leading 3-0 in a tempestuous semi-final at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo against the tournament hosts.
Teargas was fired as riot police tried to control the home supporters while Ghana fans, corralled into an enclosure to the side of the 15,000 capacity stadium, spilt onto the field and amassed behind the goal as they fled a deluge of water bottles and cans.
A helicopter flew over the stands in a bid to force the spectators out with at least one fan falling dangerously over a barrier. It was not immediately known if there were any injuries.
Equatorial Guinea fans had started throwing objects onto the field after their side went behind to a controversial 42nd minute penalty.
Ghana players had to be protected by riot police using plastic shields as they left the field at the end of the first half and the second period was delayed by two minutes as home fans aimed plastic bottles and tin cans at Ghana’s bench.
The Confederation of African Football used the public address system to threaten to call off the game if the crowd at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo did not stop pelting Ghana’s players.
Later there were also appeals for calm from Equatorial Guinea captain Emilio Nsue and the country’s sports minister.
The second half was halted briefly, first, as a linesman had to flee infield to escape more missiles from the angry crowd and again eight minutes from time when Ghana supporters sought sanctuary on the field after coming under attack from locals.
The players remained on the field with the referee as officials struggled to bring order. The delay went on for 34 minutes before play was resumed.