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Sabri: Hard to accept defeat

Fortazela: Sabri Lamouchi resigned as Ivory Coast coach minutes after a 1-2 loss to Greece knocked them out of the World Cup.

“My contract comes to an end at this World Cup and there will be no epilogue and you can understand well as to why,” said the 42-year-old Frenchman. “It is logical as we did not do well at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations or at the World Cup finals.”

A contentious refereeing decision eliminated the Ivory Coast from the World Cup on Tuesday, extending a calamitous record at tournaments for a golden generation of players who must now feel permanently jinxed.

The Africans were just minutes from achieving their aim of going through to the second round, when a controversial call gave opponents Greece a stoppage-time penalty which Giorgos Samaras converted to put the European side through with a 2-1 win.

Ivory Coast needed only a draw in Fortaleza to advance for the first time in their third successive World Cup appearance and at long last confirm the potential of their star-studded squad.

But instead they head home crest-fallen once again. “The end result is cruel even if the Greeks deserved this victory,” coach Sabri Lamouchi said.

“We could have had the match stopped one minute earlier. We saw that everything is in the details. It’s very tough, very hard. There’s a lot of disappointment and frustration for me. The whole squad made a lot of effort. In the end, it was hard to accept defeat,” he said.

Not only did the tournament in Brazil offer the chance for the Ivorians to write history, it also offered redemption after several disappointing tournaments previously.

Since 2006, they have been the overwhelming favourites at successive African Nations Cup finals, but never been able to lift the title. They lost on penalties in the 2006 and 2012 finals and were dumped out in the knock-out round in 2008, 2010 and last year.

It has earned the Ivorians the moniker of “chokers” across the continent for their perceived propensity to fail within sight of victory.