Ivory Coast forward Salomon Kalou has announced his retirement from international football as the defending champions of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) were knocked out in the group stage of the 2017 edition in Gabon.
“I am 31, this is my sixth Africa Cup of Nations. I have been to a final and won another. This time things did not go so well. There are young players like [Frank Kessie, [Wilfried] Zaha… I think they are the future of Ivorian football and I wish them good luck,” Kalou said after the favourites were knocked out.
The former Chelsea forward who now plays in the German Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin was awarded the Man of the Match against Morocco but it was worthless as they would not progress to the quarter finals of the tournament.
Morocco’s lone goal was enough to earn them a spot in the next stage ahead of the Elephants.
Worthy of note is that the Ivorian side did not show that they wanted the game more as they struggled to create just two chances. Zaha was able to send a weak shot outside of 12 yards and Kalou’s headers hit the woodwork. They barely put up a fight despite needing nothing short of a victory to progress.
Morocco showed a sense of urgency as they wanted to avoid a draw as it might not be enough for them to go beyond Group C. They scored in the 64th minute through Rachid Alioui. They remained compact, frustrating the efforts of the Ivorian side.
Morocco could have scored another from a counter attack but for the poor accuracy of full back Hamza Mendyl. The 19-year old player ran half the entire pitch only to shoot the ball into the side netting.
Morocco and DR Congo are the two sides that are moving to the next stage.