Yaya Toure and Ivory Coast team return home to hero's welcome after African Cup of Nations triumph (Photos)

Hundreds of thousands of supporters at the airport and on the streets of Ivory Coast‘s commercial capital Abidjan welcomed home the national football team on Monday after its victory at the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.

Ivory Coast won its first Nations Cup title in nearly a quarter of a century on Sunday, edging neighbours Ghana 9-8 in a dramatic penalty shootout after extra time ended in a goalless draw.

Supporters, who had watched their Elephants team lose in two finals, poured into the streets following the win in a party that lasted much of the night.

President Alassane Ouattara, who travelled in his motorcade through the celebrating crowds Sunday night, declared Monday a national holiday and called upon Ivorians to come to the lagoon-side national stadium to show their appreciation for the team.

‘It’s wonderful. We had a fantastic team and a coach without equal … The Ivorian people are proud,’ Ouattara said following the victory.

Cheering crowds decked out in Ivory Coast’s national colours – orange, white and green – swamped the airport and packed the 15km (9 miles) route that brought the team from the airport to the city centre.

Monday morning, hours before the players were due to arrive there, the 45,000-seat stadium was full and police officials broadcast messages ordering fans to stay at home for security reasons.

‘I haven’t slept since yesterday. I’m tired but I’ve been there at the stadium since 6 AM to wait and to see the players,’ Fatou Kouyate said as she waited.

Manchester City midfielder and Ivory Coast captain Yaya Toure had looked more relieved than elated after lifting the trophy for the first time at the sixth attempt, breaking his duck at international level.

‘When you win with your club, it’s quite amazing but with your country it’s something unbelievable,’ he said.

‘I’ve been waiting for so many years now. I’ve been dreaming of this. It’s difficult right now to describe the feeling as captain, it’s something special.’

Source: Daily Mail Online

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