By Brian Sweeney Cairo
DIDIER DROGBA insists he is a better player than Samuel Eto’o and aims to prove it by leading Ivory Coast to African Nations Cup success today.
The Elephants meet tournament hosts Egypt in Cairo, with Drogba hoping to build on his match-winning semi-final strike against Nigeria.
Despite his impressive tournament, the Chelsea striker is riled by suggestions that he is inferior to Barcelona’s Eto’o, the current African Player of the Year, who leads the goalscoring charts with five.
"I believe I am the best player in Africa and I am going to prove it tomorrow," said Drogba.
"I am better than Samuel Eto’o, the only difference between me and Eto’o is that he knows how to publicise himself. If you are talking about football, I am a better player."
Drogba has scored three times in Egypt but believes he can match and even beat Eto’o’s mark against the Pharaohs.
He added: "I want to win this title, but not only that I also want to be the tournament’s top scorer, so expect some goals from me."
Meanwhile, Egypt striker Mido has reconciled with coach Hassan Shehata after their furious row during the semi-final on Tuesday.
Mido was substituted during Egypt’s 2-1 win over Senegal and had to be dragged away from a confrontation with Shehata.
Mido, 22, was thrown out of the squad and banned from playing for Egypt for six months, but he shook hands with Shehata at training yesterday and could watch today’s final from the bench.
However, the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur striker will play no part in the game, with goalscoring hero Amr Zaki set to start in his place.
Mido apologised for his actions, admitting he "made a mistake" and would "accept the punishment."
He added: "I want to apologise to all the fans and to my coach and I hope that nobody is still upset with me."
The former Ajax hitman could return to England in time to play for Spurs in the Premiership at Sunderland on Sunday.
The hosts will be seeking a record fifth African Nations Cup title when their team of home-based players faces Ivory Coast’s impressive array of European exports in a fascinating final.
The Egyptians, who on paper possess only an average team, have been swept to the final on a wave of patriotic fervour after overcoming initial scepticism among their own public.
Ivory Coast, meanwhile, have got steadily better as the tournament has worn on, eliminating any doubts about their World Cup credentials as they prepare for their first finals appearance in Germany in June.
Almost uniquely in a tournament where most players ply their trade with foreign clubs, 19 of Egypt’s 23-man squad are based locally.
Ivory Coast’s attack will be led by one of the world’s most expensive and high-profile players in Drogba.
Their French coach Henri Michel, with three Nations Cup tournaments under his belt already, can also call on a talented defence including Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue from Arsenal.
The Ivorians won the tournament for the only time in 1992 when they beat Ghana on penalties in the final.
Meanwhile, Nigeria claimed the bronze medal yesterday for the third successive time with a 1-0 win over Senegal in Cairo.
Garba Lawal grabbed the winner with just 10 minutes of the game remaining as he fired home a John Utaka cross.
Even Jay-Jay Okocha, in his final game for Nigeria, failed to light up a dull game that was played at walking pace.