Wednesday, January 28, 2015 10:43 pm
Ivory Coast coach Herve Renard said the real Africa Cup of Nations started now for his team after a 1-0 win against Cameroon on Wednesday took them into the quarter-finals.
The Elephants can look forward to a last-eight showdown with Algeria after Max-Alain Gradel’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 win against the Indomitable Lions and clinched first place in Group D.
“For a team like this the Africa Cup of Nations begins in the quarter-finals because to go out before is a failure,” said the Frenchman, whose team survived where other fancied sides such as Cameroon and Senegal have failed.
“If you don’t get through with a team like Cameroon or the Ivory Coast or Senegal you get the finger pointed at you.
“The Algeria game will be very difficult — another one after a really tough group — so there you go the competition begins now.”
The Elephants have improved after a sluggish start that saw them play out 1-1 draws with both Guinea and Mali, and Renard added: “I said before this game that it’s not necessary in a Cup of Nations to start too quickly because it’s a very difficult competition and with players like this they are ready to compete and they love games like this.
“When you play Cameroon you don’t have to try to find motivation especially when we lost 4-1 to them in September (in qualifying).”
Renard saw captain Yaya Toure come off late on after taking a knock in the second half and will hope the Manchester City man recovers in good time for the meeting with an Algeria side considered by many as favourites ahead of the competition.
He added: “I think we showed everything you need to win a competition.
“All the teams in the last eight will want to get to the final — we are only three steps from the title.
“We do this job to win. We won’t be happy if we lose in the semi-finals or even in the final, because if that happens it will always come into your mind for the rest of your life.”
Against Algeria, the Ivorians will be looking for revenge for a dramatic 3-2 defeat after extra time when the sides met in the last eight in Angola in 2010.
And for Renard it will be a special occasion after he spent time coaching leading Algerian club USM Alger in 2011.
“I had 10 great months in Algeria with them. Their fans will of course not be behind the Ivory Coast but I say hello to them and their president and now I’ll try to make them cry,” he joked.