Ivorian coach Zahoui proud in defeat

Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui looks on during the Africa Cup of Nations final

Coach Francois Zahoui says Ivory Coast can return home with their heads held high despite their defeat in Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

The Elephants missed a penalty in regulation time before losing the shoot-out to Zambia after the final had ended goalless despite extra-time.

"We didn't expect such a challenging final," said the Ivorian.

"We go back to Abidjan with not too much shame. I think we played a good game. I congratulate Zambia."

The Ivorians' misery was compounded by knowing that they had gone through the entire tournament without conceding a goal.

"It's difficult when you take part in a competition and you don't concede any goals and score nine goals,'' Zahoui said.

"You feel the cup is within your reach. We'll take stock of this later on.''

Captain Didier Drogba's costly missed penalty in the 70th minute proved the turning point in Libreville.

The Elephants did have chances afterwards, most notably when Max Gradel dragged a shot inches wide in the dying moments of regulation time.

In the shoot-out, English Premier League stars Kolo Toure and Gervinho both missed their spot-kicks to allow the Zambians to take their first title after winning 8-7 on penalties.

"We didn't have much luck," said Zahoui, who was looking to win only the Elephants' second title - and first since 1992.

"We missed the penalty in normal time, then perhaps lost a bit of confidence.

"This is a big disappointment for us."

Zahoui also said that any decision on the future of some of his team members - with Drogba now 33 and Kolo Toure 30 - would be taken after his return to Abidjan.

"We have a lot of disappointment, but we're not going to be moving players [out] because of that [defeat].

"We'll have to see what has to be done. If we have to change some players, we'll see."

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