Posted: Sunday February 3, 2013 3:26 PM

Drogba leaves African Cup without title again

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RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) -Didier Drogba came up short again at the African Cup of Nations in what was likely his last chance to win the title with Ivory Coast.

The Elephants were eliminated after a 2-1 loss to Nigeria on Sunday.

It was a lackluster tournament for the 34-year-old Drogba, who was dropped to the bench after the opener and scored his only goal after returning to the lineup in the team's final group match.

Drogba didn't play poorly Sunday, but was not able to prevent his team's defeat at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, adding to the disappointment of last year's loss to Zambia in the final.

It isn't clear if Drogba will be back with the national team at the next African Cup in two years, when he will be almost 37.

"We had only one goal coming into the tournament and that was to win the African Cup of Nations,'' Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said through a translator. "For some of us, it might have been a last chance.''

After the final whistle, Drogba got a hug from former Chelsea teammate John Obi Mikel and then went around the pitch to console his Ivory Coast teammates.

Drogba had just had the last chance of the match when a long ball was crossed into the area in stoppage time. He had his back to the goal but was still able to head the ball toward the net, sending it over the crossbar without much danger to Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

His other opportunities were in the first half.

The new Galatasaray striker made a nice play inside the area before just missing the net in the 34th and then his free kick shot from outside the area in the 41st struck the wall.

Drogba's only goal of the tournament came late against Algeria, helping start the team's rally to come back from two goals down.

Despite Drogba and several other talented players, this generation has not been able to succeed in the continental tournament. Ivory Coast was trying to reach the semifinals for the fourth time in the last five tournaments, but it hasn't won the cup since 1992. It was runner-up last year and in 2006, losing to Egypt.

Other players in this team who also were left without a title include Yaya Toure, Kolo Toure, Didier Zakora, Ndri Romaric, Salomon Kalou and Gervinho.

The next goal for Drogba, who has 60 goals in nearly 100 appearances with Ivory Coast, is to try to help the Elephants qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Ivorians lead Group C of the African qualifying tournament with four points from two matches.

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