Ivory Coast were crowned 2015 Africa Cup of Nations champions on Sunday in Bata, Equatorial Guinea thanks to hero Boubacar Barry, Ivory Coast’s goal keeper who sealed their win in a dramatic penalty shoot out.
Ghana was defeated in penalties 9-8 following a goalless 120 minutes in the Africa Cup of Nations final and it was Boubacar Barry’s first Nations cup match he featured in this year due to injury suffered by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo picked up in the Ivory Coast’s semi-final.
Boubacar saved the spot-kick of opposite number Brimah Razak, before stepping up himself to convert the winning penalty as the Ivory Coast lifted the continental football prize for the second time.
Ivory Coast’s previous triumph had come against the same opponents Ghana a sensational 11-10 shootout success in Senegal in 1992. It was also coach Herve Renard’s second title with a different team having won it with Zambia in 2012.
For Ghana coach Avram Grant it was yet another final he lost in penalty shoot outs after losing with Chelsea against Manchester United in the 2008 UEFA champions league final.
Christian Atsu and Andre Ayew struck the woodwork in the first half before Ivory Coast’s Serey Die was booked for a dangerous studs-up challenge on Wakaso Mubarak.
Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan also trod on the foot of Eric Bailly off the ball before team-mate John Boye was lucky to get away with a headbutt on the same opponent after the interval.
The initial effort saw Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure force a save off Brimah Razak in the 14th minute and two minutes later Max Gradel fired off target from a difficult angle.
Christian Atsu went close with a shot that hit the right-hand post for a rebound and away from trouble but later Andre Ayew sliced only for the ball to meet the left hand post.
Ghana’s John Boye headed wide and in the final minute, Serge Aurier’s cross almost got Razak the wrong way but the goal keeper parried away for a goalless second half.
Extra time looked less eventful as both team teams went into the penalty shoot outs. Wilfried Bony and Junior Tallo missed the first two kicks for the Ivory Coast.
And Ghana also faultered when Afriyie Acquah and Frank Acheampong also later on missed for the Black Stars. As the shootout reached its 11th round, Barry saved from Razak sending the Ivorians into celebrations as they assumed their was bound to enter from their Goal keeper Barry.
Barry fell to the Ground after saving as another muscle cramp appeared to have affected him. He gently got back on his feet in tears as he placed the ball at the spot for the decisive penalty.
He slowly moved towards the ball and eventually struck home sparking scenes of jubilation among his team-mates. The players clad in orange ran all over the pitch excited as Wilfred Bony lifted hero Barry on his shoulders to the fans in the stands.