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CAN: “Ivory Coast, here is your African Cup” in Abidjan, triumphant parade for the Elephants

“I’m finally going to see the Elephants!” The Ivorian footballers, winners of their third African Cup of Nations, at home, paraded through Abidjan on Monday, cheered by a feverish crowd who took advantage of an exceptionally public holiday to celebrate their heroes.

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CAN: “Ivory Coast, here is your African Cup” in Abidjan, triumphant parade for the Elephants

“I’m finally going to see the Elephants!” The Ivorian footballers, winners of their third African Cup of Nations, at home, paraded through Abidjan on Monday, cheered by a feverish crowd who took advantage of an exceptionally public holiday to celebrate their heroes.

As in 2015, during their previous coronation, the Elephants roamed the streets of the economic capital of the country, perched on the roof of a truck fitted out for the occasion, with a three-star sign on the side.

The day after their 2-1 triumph against Nigeria, they greeted the tens of thousands of supporters massed on the bridges and avenues of the various communes of Abidjan, some of their supporters not hesitating to accompany their procession running, far away to be discouraged by the oppressive heat which hit the city.

Around 8:00 p.m., after more than four hours of a joyous crowd bath, under heavy police escort, the players entered a 100% orange Félix Houphouët-Boigny stadium, roaring with happiness.

Dressed in white “Champions of Africa” t-shirts, the players and staff members began a lap of honor.

Many of them were clearly moved, and many filmed on their phones the deafening reception they received.

“It’s a feeling of pride that dominates. With three stars we return among the great African nations,” rejoices Junior Djedjess, who came to the stadium. Only Egypt (7 titles), Cameroon (5) and Ghana (4) have done better in the history of the competition.

“My country won, I’m finally going to see the Elephants, it’s an immense joy,” enthuses Moussa Savané, another delighted supporter.

From Sunday night to Monday, some fans managed to get their hands on jerseys already stamped with a third star sewn or glued on in a hurry.

Resurrected

After their lap of honor, the players went down to the pitch one by one and veteran Max-Alain Gradel, 36, presented the trophy to the public. “Ivory Coast, here is your African Cup. God bless Ivory Coast,” said the captain of the Ivorian Eleven before presenting the trophy to Prime Minister Robert Beugré Mambé.

“We're worthless but we took the cup,” chanted the supporters who ran towards the stadium from the start of the afternoon. Ironic slogan for a team that has come a long way.

On the brink of collapse three weeks ago, when Equatorial Guinea humiliated them 4-0, the Ivorians qualified for the round of 16 by a mouse hole.

“After the 4-0 I was dejected, but we were still alive and a new team was born,” remembers Junior Djedjess.

Because Ivory Coast then threw everything into disarray: exit Jean-Louis Gasset, the coach, replaced by one of his deputies, the Ivorian Emerse Faé, a novice at this level.

And a new competition began: Senegal, Mali, DRC then Nigeria fell under the Ivorian "hammer blows", a reference to Tam Sir's hit, which became the unofficial anthem of the competition, taken up in chorus by all the supporters, accompanied of his choreography.

“We organized a CAN at home, we won it, we came out today to show them how proud we are,” says Hana Malika Koné, fan of midfielder Seko Fofana.

Monday, with the applause at the stadium, the attackers Simon Adingra and Sébastien Haller - passer and scorer on Sunday in the final - were among the most praised. But one name comes up in the crowd: “Faé, Faé” in homage to this miracle-worker coach.

The celebrations are not over. On Tuesday, the players must be received by President Alassane Ouattara.

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