Nkausu tips Ivorians for Afcon title

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Zambian defender Davies Nkausu has backed his former coach Herve Renard to steer Ivory Coast to the Caf Africa Cup of Nations title.

“Herve is a very good coach and Ivory Coast are in the best position with him as the leader,” Nkausu said in Pretoria on Thursday.
“I think he is the right person to guide a quality team like Ivory Coast all the way to Afcon victory.”

Renard led an unfancied Zambia to the 2012 Afcon championship where Nkausu played an integral role in the team.

In the final, Chipolopolo beat Renard’s current team in a dramatic penalty shoot-out in Libreville, Gabon.

On Wednesday, Ivory Coast secured their place in the final of the continental showpiece in Equatorial Guinea after a comprehensive 3-1 win over DR Congo. They romped to their third final in nine years courtesy of goals from Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Wilfried Kanon.

Nkausu said the Frenchman’s tactical acumen and ability to motivate was what made him such a special coach.

“The players all buy into what Herve wants them to do. He made us believe we could win.”

The Ivorians were last crowned continental champions in 1992 and although their golden generation of players showed such great promise, they had failed to live up to expectations.

The envy of other national teams, the West Africans were blessed with talent in Didier Drogba, Didier Zokora, the Toure brothers – Kolo, Yaya and Ibrahim – Salomon Kalou and Gervinho.

Nkausu, who plays for University of Pretoria, believed Ivory Coast always had quality players, and only needed a top coach to help them end their 23-year cup drought.

“They have gone into every tournament as the favourites to win and I think the pressure sometimes got to them. It’s not easy to play when all eyes are on them.”

Ivory Coast finished runners-up at Afcon in 2012, losing to Zambia on penalties, and suffering a similar loss to Egypt in 2006.

The Elephants have another shot at the title on Sunday against either Ghana or hosts Equatorial Guinea.

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