EPL stars are Ivory Coast's secret weapon in Afcon: Fortune

EPL stars will help Ivory Coast end 20-year drought in Africa Cup of Nations, says former Man Utd ace Quinton

South African World Cupper and former Manchester United ace Quinton Fortune seems to know the secret behind Ivory Coast's total domination of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) being hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea -- English Premier League (EPL) stars.

Ivory Coast's skipper Didier Drogba celebrates a goal in the Africa
Cup of Nations recently. Pic/AFP

The 1992 Afcon champions have not lost a game so far and are yet to concede a goal in the tournament. Skipper Drogba's brace and Yaya's stunner against Guinea earned The Elephants a spot in today's semi-final against Mali and a lot will be expected of England's highly-paid bunch, whose consistency has been the team's driving force.

Former Man United players Denis Irwin and Quinton Fortune with
the 2010-11 EPL trophy in a Mumbai mall. Pic/Santosh Nagwekar

Fortune, who has 46 caps for his country, believes Ivory Coast's strong EPL contingent -- Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Arsenal's Gervinho, Newcastle's Chiek Tiote and Manchester City's Kolo and Yaya Toure -- give them the edge and make them the undoubted favourites to win the tournament.

"They  (Ivory Coast) should win the tournament. These players are playing in the EPL because they are quality players and they are playing for big clubs. Their experience helps the national team.

"They are important to their clubs. Look at Yaya Toure. Manchester City tried everything they could to keep him a bit longer, when he was leaving for the African Cup," the 34-year-old Fortune told MiD DAY.

The midfielder, who donned the famous red of Manchester from 1999 to 2006, interacted with Red Devils' fans alongwith former Manchester United defender Denis Irwin (1990-2002) in the city yesterday. The duo displayed Manchester United's nineteenth Premier League (2010-11) trophy in front of a small gathering of dazed

About today's semi-final, Fortune added: "They should beat Mali. But in football, it's not that easy. On paper, they are the stronger team, but they have to go out there and win the game. With the amount of quality they have in the team they should be in the final."

Ghana take on Zambia in the other semi-final today.

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