The African Cup of Nations kicked off on Saturday and Yaya Touré believes this is the year for the Ivory Coast to hoist the silverware. The midfielder spoke about the challenges of the tournament and level of competition but his sole focus is on winning.
Q: The African Cup of Nations is now underway. What do the Ivory Coast need to do to win the tournament?
A: The African Cup of Nations is very difficult – it's very hard to win. But with the squad we've got, I think we are favourites with everyone. But I think, now, we have to be so intelligent; we have to be strong. Because African teams, tactically, they are not so good. Technically they are fantastic, but mentally they are not so strong like a European team. And we have to work on that, because every time we go to the African Cup of Nations we come back disappointed. But I think this year will be our year because we've got fantastic players. I think this year will be great because my country and the people in the Ivory Coast expect us to bring this cup back home. We know it will be difficult because all the other teams are there to beat us, but I still think it will be a fantastic competition this year.
A: Yeah, sometimes. You can have all the best players on one team, but they can't make you win. You have to have a fighting spirit; you have to have cohesion as a team. Football is about a group of friends, a group of brothers; that can come together and win. Talent is not enough and we realise that. We've got fantastic players but we haven’t been winning so it’s becoming hard for us. I think this time we will win this cup.
Follow Yaya Touré’s full African football story at puma.com/football
Q: Egypt and Cameroon won't be at the tournament this year. Does this give Ivory Coast even greater belief that they can win it?
A: Yeah, but when you look at the fans or when you look at this business of football, they say: “Yeah, Ivory Coast has a good chance because Cameroon is not here, Algeria is not here, Egypt is not here.” But, for me, it's not true. Cameroon went out because there was a team that was better than them. And it's those kinds of teams we have in front of us, and that's why I think it will be difficult this year. We will face teams that don't have big stars like we have – like Gervinho or Drogba or Salomon Kalou – they have normal players that will always fight to go through. And I think it will be difficult for us because of that.
Q: Do you think you can get through that group stage?
A: It won’t be easy. I'm not one to predict things like that, because I always believe in the football game when we are on the pitch. Anything can happen. Everyone can say: “Okay, yeah, Ivory Coast against Sudan was easy for Ivory Coast.” But in the end, when you see how the game went, you will realise how African football has progressed, how every team has come to fight, to want to go through. You play in a competition because you believe you can go through.
Q: Would anything less than winning the tournament be a disappointment?
A: We are focusing on winning at this stage. If we finish with anything other than a win, it will be hard. If we don't win, we lose. I don't like thinking about losing. I want to win. For me, that's most important.
The Ivory Coast opened their African Cup of Nations campaign with a 1-0 win over Sudan and play Burkina Faso on January 26 and Angola on January 30 to close out group play. Follow the latest news on the African Cup of Nations with Soccer365.
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