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After horrible group stage, these three points have helped Côte d'Ivoire turn things around

Opinions vary regarding whether Ivory Coast's squad this year matches the caliber of the one that clinched the AFCON title in 2015.

Ivory Coast

Certainly, in terms of market value, the current team surpasses its predecessor, but inflated transfer fees in recent years skew this comparison. However, the star power of the players seems diminished.

In 2015, the likes of the Touré brothers, Yaya and Kolo, Gervinho, Wilfried Bony, and Seydou Doumbia graced the pitch, all recognizable names in European football. Today, the roster boasts less renowned players, with some starters plying their trade in Saudi Arabia, thus arguably not at the pinnacle of their careers.

Yet, their significance should not be underestimated, attributable partly to their collective heart and passion – a point worth elaborating upon.

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Below, we take a look at three points have helped Côte d'Ivoire turn things around at the AFCON:

The streets of Abidjan radiated with orange and green, bedecked with Ivory Coast flags, and throngs donned national team jerseys, reflecting the fervor preceding the tournament. However, this fervor also translated into immense pressure on the players, evident in their faltering group stage performance.

Upon advancing to the knockout phase, albeit fortuitously, the Elephants exhibited newfound vigor and loyalty to their jersey, channeling the pressure into energy. Though perhaps outmatched in skill by Nigeria, it is this intangible spirit that could prove pivotal in Sunday's final.

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Emerson Faé stands as the most conspicuous figure in this transformation, elevating the Ivory Coast from the near eliminated team to serious contenders for the title. Faé converted the shock of Gasset's mid-tournament dismissal into motivation, providing the squad with a much-needed impetus. His impassioned leadership not only fascinates supporters but also resonates with his players.

In heavy contrast to his predecessor, the stoic 70-year-old Jean-Louis Gasset, Faé's animated touchline presence is lovely too se. He orchestrates, motivates, and rallies alongside the team, epitomized by his jubilant reaction to Haller's crucial goal against DR Congo. Faé's perfect substitutions and swift defensive stabilization further underscore his impact.

From suffering a 4-0 thrashing in the group stage finale against Equatorial Guinea to conceding a mere two goals throughout the knockout phase – against serious title contenders like Senegal, Mali, and Congo!

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In a very short span, Faé fortified a previously shaky defense, which notably stood firm against serious attacking threats in Senegal and DR Congo. Noteworthy is the commanding presence of defensive midfielders Frank Kessié and Seko Fofana, despite their modest exploits in Saudi Arabia since last summer.

Overall, the Elephants' journey to the final is a testament to their resilience, tactical acumen from the new coach, and, most importantly, their unwavering passion for national pride.

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