African Cup of Nations 2013: Didier Drogba Will Lead Ivory Coast to Glory

Michael DulkaContributor IJanuary 21, 2013

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25:  Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast reacts during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between North Korea and Ivory Coast at the Mbombela Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Didier Drogba leads his Ivory Coast squad into their first match of the African Cup of Nations tomorrow against Togo at 10 a.m. ET. With a talented and experienced group, Drogba will lead his nation to glory and host the African Cup. 

Ivory Coast is the clear favorite heading into the tournament with the likes of Drogba, Yaya Toure and Gervinho. While they've been favorites before as a powerhouse over the last few years, they haven't been able to bring home the trophy. They were runner-up in 2006 and 2012, but this year they will be crowned champions.

This will be Drogba's last time in the tournament representing the country for which he has given so much. According to, Gervinho has stated this is the final goal in Drogba's career: 

[Afcon is] the only thing left he wants to get for the Ivory Coast because he has brought us so much already. That's the one last objective.

I hope he will be successful. We will be with him. We will support him at the best of our abilities for him to be able to give this to the nation and then...maybe he will keep going but we could not ask for more from him.

Drogba will be looking to end his international career much like he ended his career with Chelsea. In his final game, with his final kick of the ball, Drogba finally brought the Champions League trophy to the club. 

Drogba has had plenty of time to rest and prepare himself for the tournament. His current club, Shanghai Shenhua F.C., ended their season in the Chinese Super League in early November. Since then, Drogba has had his full attention towards winning the African Cup. Chelsea allowed Drogba to train with the club in December as he prepared for the tournament.

Based on their recent success and getting to finals in 2006 and 2012, this team knows how to navigate the tournament. They are a bunch with extreme chemistry both on and off the pitch. That chemistry will help in a tournament that plucks many players from the middle of their club seasons.

With their chemistry, this group will bound together around Drogba. They know this is likely their last chance to win the trophy with this group. That type of bond is something that will inspire the team and keep them focused on the goal. 

That said, they need to do a better job of handling pressure. It's been their downfall in the past, losing on penalties both years in the finals. With a more grown-up and focused team, this is the year they handle not only the pressure of being favorites, but in match pressure as well. 

The biggest contender to Ivory Coast is likely to be Ghana. They looked to be a more serious threat with Andre Ayew in the squad, but will have to do without the Marseille man. Ghana looked underwhelming in their debut match as the they squandered a 2-0 lead against Congo.

Drogba's career has been incredibly special and filled with storybook chapters. By winning the African Cup of Nations, Drogba will add another storybook ending to his long list of accomplishments.