Herve Renard, who won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations with Zambia in 2012, became only the third coach to win the competition more than once, when he guided Côte d’Ivoire to a penalty shoot-out victory over Ghana in the Estadio de Bata on Sunday. One of the stars in his side was Manchester City striker Wilfried Bony, who scored two goals for *Les Elephants *en route to their second African title. FIFA.com spoke exclusively to the two after the match.
FIFA.com: What does it feel like to be an African Champion? Wilfried Bony:It feels great. I am so very happy. We have been looking for a win for 23 years, so it is very important for us. Today is a great day and we dedicate this victory to our country, to our fans, to our people there, because we have suffered a lot. I can say thank you God for all the glory he gave us today.* Herve Renard:*I feel very lucky. In a penalty shoot-out you have to have some luck, but it was not only luck. We built this victory with some fantastic team spirit, and I was very lucky to have a fantastic player in Copa [goalkeeper Boubacar 'Copa' Barry played his only game of the competition in the final and not only saved a spot-kick but converted the match-winning one himself] this time. Just as the Zambian side, when they won, the Côte d’Ivoire team was so together as a unit. And that made the difference.
What made this victory and what did you think when you were two penalties down? Bony:I think after the missed penalties, the motivation our goalkeeper gave to the other players was fantastic. We still believed that we could do it and then we really went for it.* Renard:*I thought it would be very difficult, but I always said that we will win on penalties. I believe in my stars, and I was a very lucky man.
Côte d'Ivoire have played 480 minutes in four AFCON finals and have not scored or conceded a goal. How can you explain that? Bony:It is about playing as a team and staying compact in the back. Even if we have not scored a goal, we have won two championships and that is something great.* Renard:*The most important thing is to win the trophy. With Zambia it was the same: we did not score against Côte d’Ivoire in 2012, but we won the trophy. This is the most important thing. You need to win trophies and if you manage without scoring, then that is good also.
Winning something with your club is great, but your national team is your national team. You are playing for your country and there is nothing that can beat that.
Why did Boubacar Barry play his first match in the final? Renard:I could not play Sylvain Gbohouo because he was injured, but Copa was there when we needed him. It is a fantastic story for him. Not only because he stopped the penalty and then scored the one for victory himself, but also how he was with the team when he did not play and the support he gave Sylvain. Copa will be forever in the history of Côte d’Ivoire football.
What does the success mean to you personally and what happens now? Bony:It is the best way to begin a new year and it feels fantastic. I am a very positive person and I always thought that I could win things. I am very happy to do that today.* Renard:*I don't know what it means now. First we will go to Abidjan. You can imagine how it will be there. I think we'll need some bodyguards, people will be so happy.
Wilfried, what does it feel like to win the Africa Cup of Nations, compared to winning something with your club? Bony:There is no comparison. Winning something with your club is great, but your national team is your national team. You are playing for your country and there is nothing that can beat that. So I will always take a victory with my country. But I do hope that this victory has lifted me to win things with the club also.
Herve, after the final, Ghana's Andre Ayew seemed inconsolable on the pitch. You went to him and spent quite a lot of time with him. What did you say? Renard:In those kind of situations, it is very difficult to find the right words. But I told him that Yaya Toure, the best player in Africa, lost two African Cup finals, like you, so never give up. I know you are sad, but it will come for you.