By Fred Kaweesi in Rustenberg
Ivory Coast v Nigeria 6pm
Togo v Burkina Faso 9.30pm
IVORY Coast striker Didier Drogba was ‘baptized’ as a leader of men at the age of three.
While still a toddler, his mother Clotilde decided to nickname him ‘Tito’ because of her admiration for Yugoslavia’s legendary communist leader Marshal Tito.
She appreciated Tito’s character, fighting spirit and bravery during the Cold War when he singlehandedly stood up to the Soviet Union.
“I loved him a lot because of his fighting spirit and that’s why I called Didier ‘Tito’,” Clotilde disclosed in her revealing interview with an English publication recently.
The primary attribute Clotilde wanted entrenched in his son at the time was that mental strength to stand tall when things were going against him -like it has been during the ongoing 2013 Orange Africa Nations Cup, where everything seems to have conspired against him.
Because of his poor run of form, Drogba was substituted during Ivory Coast’s 2-1 win over Togo and came off the bench in their 3-0 win over Tunisia.
Although he managed to score in the 2-2 draw against Algeria -his first and only goal so far in the tournament -it has still been a poor return from a striker of his pedigree.
However, the Galatasary forward has decided to draw motivation from the goal ahead of their explosive quarterfinal against Nigeria at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium today.
“It feels good to have finally scored. It was a bit tough for me in the first two games but you have to remember that I have been out of competitive football for over three months. I feel better now and I will try to score if I get the chance,” Drogba pointed yesterday.
Physically strong and with sound technique in the shape of stars such as Drogba, Yaya Toure, Salmon Kalou and Gervinho, the Elephants will walk out with the most impressive star-studded line-up.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi was all praises for youngsters Abdoul Razak and Bony Wilfred who rose to the occasion when they were given the opportunity to prove their worth in the 2-2 draw against Algeria.
But Lamouchi is still aware that he will need to field his strongest squad if they are to overcome the Super Eagles that are currently highly motivated after finishing second in Group C.
Nigeria plot upset
The back-four also looked error-prone against Algeria, mistakes that Nigeria’s enterprising strikers Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike or Ahmed Musa will reprimand at the first time of asking.
The two sides have met five times before at the Nations Cup, with Ivory Coast winning two matches and Nigeria one.
Although the other meetings have ended in draws, there will have to be a winner today and Nigeria are determined to stage a major upset.
“Ivory Coast have reached the end of the road. We are going to attack them because we also want to make a name for our self,” Nigeria goalkeeper Victor Enyeama stated.
In the other quarterfinal, Togo are confident of authoring a new chapter in football history against Burkina Faso.
Just like the Stallions, Togo came into the tournament as underdogs, but that status has changed thanks to some convincing displays from the two sides.