The Ivorians went to the 2017 Cup of Nations tournament as defending champions and were among a handful of nations with the tag of favourites.
Eyebrows were raised when Cote d’Ivoire drew 0-0 with Togo in their opening Group C match on 16 January. A caveat was found: Togo were led by the veteran Claude Le Roy. With nearly 30 years of coaching behind him and at his ninth Cup of Nations with his sixth different team, he was wily enough to know that a dour draw suited his team's needs.
But Cote d’Ivoire misfired again four days later against Democratic Republic of Congo. It finished 2-2 and left the defending champions in need of victory in their final game against Morocco in order to continue their quest to retain their title. That triumph on 24 January did not come. Morocco won 1-0 to book their place in the last eight.
The resignation five days later was as tardy as it was expected. “After an emergency committee meeting, the head of the Ivorian federation has accepted Michel Dussuyer’s decision to resign,” a communique from the federation said.
There were the requisite blandishments about Dussuyer’s humility, discretion and professionalism, but writ large was the failure.
Dussuyer, 55, took over from Hervé Renard in July 2015, four months after his French compatriot had inspired the embers of a golden generation to seize the grail of a second continental title in Equatorial Guinea.
The task facing the former Guinea coach was to season the youngsters who had been growing up in the shadow of unfulfilled legends who had been weighed down with expectation before achieving their apotheosis in Bata.
The coaches have been helped. Star striker Didier Drogba called time on his international career just before Renard took up the reins and title winning skipper Yaya Toure emulated Drogba by stepping down as Dussuyer came in. Ironically, Touré’s midfield wiles and muscle were sorely missed during 2017 campaign.
“I’m very disappointed because the goals we set have not been reached,” said Dussuyer immediately after the defeat to Morocco.
Becoming only the third country after Cameroon and Egypt to defend a crown since the Cup of Nations became a 16 team tournament in 1996 was an immense proposition. Dussuyer’s very public faltering merely underscored the burdens of glorious purpose.