Boubacar Barry

Ivory Coast to hand ceremonial finales to Toure, Barry in friendlies

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Ivory Coast, winners of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, has called up recently retired Kolo Toure and Boubacar Barry to hand them one final go in front of the home fans.

The pair retired from international play following the Cup victory, but have accepted call-ups for friendlies against Angola and Equatorial Guinea, both home matches at the Stade Felix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, the country’s largest city.

Toure and Barry won’t be the only ones celebrating, however. The entire 23-man squad used in the Cup run was called up by coach Herve Renard, as the federation announced it would use the pair of friendlies to parade its victorious squad and commemorate the triumph.

34-year-old Liverpool defender Toure played every single minute of the country’s cup run, totaling 570 minutes and scoring a goal in the penalty shootout in the finals. Barry saved a pair of Ghanan penalties in the shootout, including one off the feet of Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong with his country down 2-0 early, and another to set up the winning penalty – which he also took and scored – to win it at 9-8. They both retired after the win, but will be celebrated in the friendlies this week.

The country will enjoy the sendoff, but it marks a time of transition for the national team, but they have positioned the squad to re-tool well. Toure and Barry will be gone, and Yaya Toure is aging as well. A number of important players in their prime will look to step up and fill the leadership void, such as Wilfried Bony, Salomon Kalou, Seydou Doumbia, and Gervinho could see bigger leadership roles, while 22-year-old Serge Aurier could look to stake his claim as one of the country’s next big stars.

Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony to miss Manchester City’s trip to Stoke on Wednesday

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After winning the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations trophy with the Ivory Coast on Sunday, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony will not be back in England anytime soon.

Toure, captain of Les Elephants, and City’s new $38 million January signing Bony are traveling back to the Ivory Coast’s capital Abdijan to celebrate their first AFCON title since 1992 as a national holiday has been declared in the west African country.

[ WATCH: Drogba celebrates from his sofa ]

That means both Toure, 31, and Bony, 26, will be missing for the Citizens’ tricky trip to the Britannia Stadium against a Stoke side they lost to at home earlier this season.

Following their dramatic 9-8 penalty shootout win over Ghana on Sunday where goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scored the winning penalty, Bony and Toure both confirmed that they were going to spend time back in their homeland to celebrate the victory before heading back to England to help City claw back the seven-point lead Chelsea have now opened up at the top of the Premier League table.

City drew 1-1 with Hull City on Saturday, and afterwards Manuel Pellegrini confirmed that Toure and Bony would not be risked in the match.

Looking ahead to the future, City can plan to be without Toure during international breaks for the foreseeable future.

“Leaving? Retired? Me? I’m 31, my friend. No, that’s my brother [Kolo],” Toure told reporters. “When you see something, you want to repeat it. But it’s difficult, when you’ve lost it before [in two previous finals]. But now I’m very happy, and I’m going to enjoy it with my friends.”

Since Toure departed for the Africa Cup of Nations in January, Man City have failed to win any of their last four Premier League games and are slowly drifting out of the title race.

VIDEO: Watch Didier Drogba celebrate Ivory Coast’s AFCON title, from his sofa

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After a 23-year wait, the Ivory Coast are the Champions of Africa once again.

On Sunday Les Elephants beat Ghana 9-8 in an epic penalty shootout in Equatorial Guinea but as Boubacar Barry (their goalkeeper, by the way) stepped up to slot home the winning penalty, an Ivorian legend was sat thousands of miles away watching from his sofa.

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Chelsea forward Didier Drogba, 36, is the leading scorer in Ivory Coast’s history (65) and a legendary figure in his homeland. But the former captain stood down from international duty this summer after a 12-year career which saw him appear at five AFCON tournaments and three World Cups.

[ RELATED: How did U.S. players rate? ]

Drogba never tasted success in the Africa Cup of Nations as the Ivory Coast finished runners up in 2006 and 2012.

Watch the video below to see Drogba’s hysterical reaction as he celebrated Ivory Coast’s title, but part of him must have been extremely sad not to be involved in such a monumental moment with the group of players he’s been with for well over a decade.

Africa Cup of Nations final: Ivory Coast crowned champs after 11-round shootout

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It may have taken 120 minutes and then some more, but Ivory Coast has won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

No goals were scored during regulation or extra time, leaving it all on the line in the penalty shootout.

Bad memories arose for Ivory Coast, as the Elephants had lost their previous two trips to the AFCON finals in penalty kicks.

[ RELATED: DR Congo beats Equatorial Guinea in penalties ]

But it was backup goalkeeper Boubacar Barry who was the hero, making a save on Ghana’s Brimah Razak before burying the game-winning penalty himself.

It is Ivory Coast’s second AFCON title, their first coming in 1992, a match in which they also defeated Ghana in penalties.

Both sides played cautiously in the first half, feeling out the opposition in a 45 minutes that didn’t see too many chances. Everton’s Christian Atsu nearly gave Ghana the lead in the 25th minute, firing a shot past Barry only to be rejected by the woodwork.

[ RELATED: Twenty-two killed in riots at Egyptian soccer match ]

Atsu was the most dangerous man on the pitch for Ghana, using his speed to make runs down the flanks for the Black Stars. Gervinho and Wilfried Bony played well off of each other in the Ivory Coast attack, but neither side was able to find the back of the net after 120 minutes.

The pressure was on Boubacar Barry for Ivory Coast, as he was replacing injured starter Sylvain Gbohouo in net for the Elephants. After star striker Bony missed his penalty kick off the crossbar, it seemed Ivory Coast was destined for another heartbreaking defeat in the AFCON finals.

With Ghana leading the shootout 2-0, Barry made a save on Afriyie Acquah before Frank Acheampong missed wide. With the score then knotted at two, Ivory Coast buried eight straight penalties, trading goals with Ghana.

After all the field players had taken shots, it came down to a goalkeeper battle between Boubacar Barry and Brimah Razak. Razak stepped up first for Ghana only to see Barry come up with a massive diving stop, putting the title hopes of a nation on his back.

Barry went down with an apparent cramp after making the save on Razak, worrying the Ivorian fans that he may have trouble taking his penalty. But the backup showed no signs of injury, or nerves, when he slotted home his penalty into the side netting as Ivory Coast were crowned champions of Africa.

Samaras’s stoppage time conversion sends Greece into nation’s first World Cup knockout round

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For Greece, it was history the hard way, but thanks to a stoppage time penalty converted by Georgios Samaras, the former European champions are into their first World Cup knockout round. Beating Boubacar Barry into the right of goal in the 93rd minute, the veteran attacker gave the Greeks a 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast, clinching second place in Group C and a spot in the 2014 World Cup’s second round.

Andreas Samaris’s 42nd minute goal allowed Greece to open the scoring after a turnover deep in the Ivorian half saw the Africans pay for a lackluster opening period. Though a more intense Ivory Coast side initially struggled in the second, Wilfried Bony’s 72nd minute equalizer appeared to put the Ivorians into the knockout round.

With a late penalty called on Giovanni Sio, however, Greece was given their chance to make history. With a confident strike past the diving Barry, Samaras booked the nation’s first spot in the final 16, securing the 2-1 win they needed to take second place.

The result sets up Greece for a Sunday meeting against Group D-winning Costa Rica. For the Ivory Coast, the 2014 World Cup ends with three points and a third place finish, marking the third time in as many finals the Western African nation leaves the World Cup after the opening round.

[ RESULTS: Rodriguez carries Colombia | Costa Rica clinches Group D | Uruguay eliminates Italy ]
[ RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly ]

An initial 25 minutes with little action was defined my Greek misfortune, with injuries to midfielder Patagionis Kone and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezi forcing head coach Fernando Santos to use his first two substitutions. Despite those changes, the Ivorians were unable to make any progress breaking through the Greek defense, with the first chance of the match coming for José Holebas, who put a 19-yard shot off Barry’s crossbar.

Just before intermission, another transition opportunity allowed the underdogs to take a 1-0 lead. Fed into the right of the Ivory Coast’s penalty area, Samaris, who came on after Kone’s injury, allowed Barry to commit low before chipping the keeper from just inside the box. Taking advantage of a Chieck Tioté turnover, Greece quickly produced the game’s opening goal.

At halftime, the Ivorians found the intensity they lacked over the first 45 minutes, but by the hour mark, les Elephants had only generated one shot on target. Bringing Bony for Tioté just past the hour mark, the Ivorians stepped up their pursuit of an equalizer, but with Greece’s counter forcing desperation fouls from Salomon Kalou (62′) and Serey Die (69′), the favorites looked more likely to concede consolation.

In the 74th minute, the inclusion of Bony came good. After a ball played into the left of Greece’s area found Gervinho behind the defense, a pass cut back for the Swansea striker ended up in the back of Patagionis Glykos’s net, the one-timed shot beating the substitute keeper inside the left post to put the Ivornians back on track for the knockout round.

In the third minute of stoppage time, however, les Elephants were knocked off course. After Sio was whistled for taking down Samaras in the penalty area, the veteran forward converted from the spot, beating Barry to put Greece into its first knockout round.

With that one whistle, Ivorian dreams had turned to tragedy, denying the Africans their own piece of World Cup history. With only their second win at a World Cup, the former European Champions have added another big tournament disappointment to the nations’ soccer history.

In the process, Fernando Santos’s team claimed second in Group C, securing an unlikely spot in the tournament’s final 16.

Lineups

Greece: Karnezi (Glykos 24′); Torosidis, Manolas, Papastathopolous, Holebas; Maniatis, Christodoulopoulos, Karagounis (Gekas 78′), Kone (Samaris 12′), Salpingidis; Samaras

Goals: Samaris 42′, Samaras 93′

Ivory Coast: Barry; Aurier, K. Touré, Bamba, Boka; Tioté (Bony 61′), Die, Y. Touré; Kalou, Drogba (Diomande 78′), Gervinho (Sio 83′)

Goals: Bony 74′