African Cup of Nations - Drogba: Fear factor drives us
Sun, 12 Feb 10:43:00 2012
EXCLUSIVE: Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba has said fear of becoming "a big flop" will motivate his side in the African Cup of Nations final.
Ahead of the biggest match in his nation's history against Zambia in Libreville, a tetchy Drogba dismissed media criticism of the Ivorians and said they would be every bit as fired-up as their unheralded opponents.
After your game with Mali you were reported to have had an issue with your country’s press…something to do with Gervinho?
It was not only my country’s press. It was just newspapers in general. We have played well. We have not lost and we are in the final. But they still say bad things about us. Especially Gervinho. They say he does not play this way or he does not play that way. It is not nice at all. If we don’t win people complain. If we win people complain.
So what happened in the mixed zone in Libreville?
Gervinho was giving some interviews after we won against Mali and I was passing by. Then it occurred to me that these were the same people that had been so bad to him. So I told them to let us go.
Don’t you think that was unprofessional, as Gervinho was doing what was required of him?
As captain it is my responsibility to stand up for my men. I am not saying people should not suggest things that will make our team better, but there is a way. We have blood flowing in our bodies just like the journalists. Why do you say such things about a person in such a manner? It is not nice.
So you defend your decision to pull him away…
Of course! And I will do it again. Not because I want to be arrogant, but my team comes first. We are here to do a job. We are not here to play. Anything that stands in our way will be cut off. That is all.
You mentioned your fine record going into the final. How does the team feel about this?
To be honest most of us are not thinking about that. You know that in the past we may have been a bit too proud and under-estimated people, which is why we have not yet won the Cup. But now we all agreed that everything we do between now and Sunday should be focused on the Cup. No distractions, no thinking of clubs, no allowing anything to take our focus. We are here for a job. And we will try our best to do it. If we go unbeaten, it a bonus. If we go without conceding a goal, it is also a bonus.
Is this the best Ivorian team of all time?
Not at all. There have been many great teams in the past. We are good players, but you have to admit that we have not had the best of team performances over the years. The balance has not really been right. I think we are getting there. Let’s see if we can finish hard.
In 2008 and 2010 your teams were accused of indiscipline, with people saying it was a factor to your inability to win. Is that an accurate observation?
I don’t know what indiscipline they are talking about. It is a long word with many, many meanings. If you sleep on the wrong side of the bed, it is indiscipline. If you don’t wear your boots well it is a kind of indiscipline. So I don’t know what kind of indiscipline they mean. In those years, we played against more balanced teams. That is the key.
How do you see your stroll through the group stages?
It has never been a stroll and I disagree. We played against determined sides. You can say we were perhaps stronger, but we did not stroll. Who did we stroll against? Sudan? Burkina [Faso]? Angola? Those were all hard games. Our coach deserves great credit for guiding us along those waters. The players did a good job too as a team.
But against Angola your coach made nine changes. Surely that was a sign that you were cruising?
The coach will be the best person to tell you why he made nine changes. But what he told us was that he wanted to make sure as many of us got a chance to play as possible. He also said he needed more of us to play so that he can see his options in times of difficult situations. The team that played Sudan also wanted to prove themselves, just like any player who does not start regularly at every club.
Will you win the African Cup?
We would like to win this for our country. You must understand that we just are coming from a civil war. We need to make things happen to make our people feel that our country stands for great things and not for negative things. I will like to say that we will win, but we really respect what Zambia have done too. So we will take the final very, very, very seriously and see what comes in the end.
People have said Zambia are more motivated than you, considering the circumstances in which their famed 1993 team died in a plane crash here in Libreville. Do you believe that?
We are all footballers and we know how to make small things motivate. I understand what people say about why Zambia will be motivated, but people forget that we all have our own desires. We have been called favourites for a long, long time and have done little. Why will we not be as motivated as they are? Our team can become a big flop of our time if we don’t win, so we also need to win. Zambia are motivated, Ivory Coast are motivated. The best side will win.
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