CAN 2021: Eric Bailly “very dejected” after a penalty saved during the Ivorian defeat
Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle says defender Eric Bailly was “very dejected” after his penalty was saved in their 16th loss to Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations.
“He was crying and it was very hard,” Beaumelle told BBC Sport Africa.
“I hugged him and just said ‘You are a great champion’.”
Central defender Bailly had returned to the Ivory Coast side in Douala after sustaining a head injury in their second group game.
The 27-year-old sported a rugby scrimmage cap for protection and impressed at the back for 120 minutes, but Egypt substitute keeper Gabaski made a crucial save to prevent Bailly from 12 yards out.
Subsequently, Beaumelle was full of praise for Bailly’s attitude.
“What he did during the competition, he showed he was a great champion,” added the Frenchman.
“All the great champions miss penalties, I have so many examples.
“I think the keeper did well. He saved two or three chances in extra time and saved Eric’s penalty.
“You know, when you lose on penalties, you have nothing else to say. I’m very sad for the boys because I felt we could go very far in this competition.”
Elephants must “accept the exit”
Ivory Coast had defeated defending champions Algeria 3-1 to top their Nations Cup group in Cameroon and looked capable of extending their bid for a third continental crown.
Their meeting with Egypt in Cameroon on Wednesday was a close game and the nature of the defeat left Beaumelle “sad and disappointed”.
“I think it was a very balanced game,” he said.
“Each team had chances and deserved to score, it was 50-50 but a really good game. When you go to a penalty shootout it’s tough.
“We didn’t want to stop like that. When you lose sometimes you prefer to lose because the opponent is better but we think we deserve to go through like Egypt.
“But that’s football and we have to accept that.”
“I don’t want to talk about my contract”
Beaumelle took charge of Ivory Coast in March 2020, having been an assistant when the team won the 2015 Nations Cup on penalties.
The Elephants had already lost two finals on kicks, to Egypt in 2006 and Zambia in 2012, and were also knocked out of the 2019 tournament on penalties by Algeria in the quarter-finals.
The West Africans failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, after being eliminated by Cameroon in November, again Ivory Coast but will host the next Nations Cup in 2023.
Beaumelle says it’s “too early to talk” about their potential challenge at home next year, but thinks his side have “a bright future”.
Meanwhile, the 43-year-old remains uncertain about his own future.
“I don’t want to talk about me. I don’t want to talk about my contract,” he said.
“In my head, I’m still in the game and I need two or three days to calm down and we’ll see what happens.”