Chelsea star Didier Drogba fired the Ivory Coast into the African Nations Cup final as they overcame Nigeria 1-0 in Alexandria today.
The £24m striker was gifted a simple chance to score in the 47th minute and made no mistake as the Elephants continued to upset the odds by reaching only their second-ever final.
The Super Eagles were second best for much of the contest and teenage prodigy John Obi Mikel, who has expressed his desire to join Drogba at Stamford Bridge, was largely a spectator as Nigeria were denied their third final in 12 years.
Drogba even took time out of the Ivorians’ exuberant victory celebrations to console Mikel at the final whistle.
Nigeria sent on Bolton star Jay-Jay Okocha to make possibly his final international appearance.
He replaced Mikel – the man tipped to succeed him as the creative talisman in the side – and within five minutes struck a 30-yard free-kick which was gratefully claimed by Ivory Coast goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Tizie.
Nigeria continued to press for an equaliser in the closing stages but the Elephants were in tireless mood, led by Drogba, who made a number of timely interventions as he helped out in defence.
The win is bad news for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who desperately wants Ivory Coast defenders Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue back to boost his weakened defence.