It is a result that leaves serious question marks hanging over the future of manager Jean-Louis Gasset and some of his players.
The Equatoguineans went on a rampage to win Group A in the ongoing AFCON 2024, with Emilio Nsue scoring twice, and Pablo Ganet and Jannick Buyla each adding a goal to hand the hosts a devastating 4-0 loss on Monday.
Ivory Coast finished third in the group, winning one and losing two matches, scoring two goals and conceding five.
Mathematically, they can still qualify for the AFCON 2024 knockouts, but the odds are against them.
AFCO 2024 – a repeat of 1984?
Ivory Coast first hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984 and were grouped with Egypt, Cameroon, and Togo. The host nation secured only one victory as they lost to Egypt and Cameroon, ultimately finishing third in the group. Four decades later, Ivory Coast have experienced a similar outcome.
Ivory Coast players dealing with AFCON 2024 defeats
After the Ivory Coast's devastating loss to Equatorial Guinea, a heart-wrenching scene unfolded as some of the Ivorian players were witnessed covering their faces with their shirts, shedding tears of frustration and disappointment.
Among them, Ibrahim Sangare and Oumar Diakite were visibly overcome with emotion, requiring assistance from both the police and members of the technical team as they were escorted off the pitch.
Additionally, players such as Seko Fofana and several others sought solace and consolation after the harrowing defeat, reflecting the depth of their anguish and disappointment.
The emotional display on the pitch underscored the profound impact of the team's defeat, resonating with fans and observers alike.
The raw outpouring of emotion from the players encapsulated the intense pressure and disappointment they experienced, highlighting the deep attachment and investment in their performance on the international stage.
This poignant scene serves as a reminder of the powerful emotional stakes inherent in the sport, transcending mere competition to encompass the profound personal and collective significance of representing their nation on the football field.
Drogba's profound statement
Ivory Coast legend Didier Drogba struck a forlorn figure in the stands as the listless Elephants got pummeled.
Speaking afterwards, he emphasised the need for a collective commitment to the sport, stressing the importance of not only asking the right questions but also making the right decisions moving forward.
“ We will have to get back to work, not only asking the right questions, but also making the right decisions. For football and only football, because today, a nation like Ivory Coast cannot organize such a competition and… Of course, it can come out as early as it came out today, but In this way, there is a real problem,” he said
His words carried a weight that resonated deeply within the Ivorian football community, capturing the sentiment of a nation grappling with the aftermath of a deeply disheartening result.
Nightmare for Ivory Coast coach
Despite high hopes and thorough preparation, Ivory Coast faced a devastating setback, leaving the team and their manager grappling with the aftermath.
Jean-Louis Gasset, expressing profound disappointment, reflected on the team's performance, citing missed opportunities and the opposition's clinical finishing as key factors contributing to their defeat.
“It's a nightmare,” Gasset decried.
“We had two or three opportunities, we didn't score, we didn't score and we got caught on the counterattack. In football, you have to be efficient. The opponents taught us a lesson.”
Glimmer of hope for Ivory Coast at AFCON 2024
All hope is not entirely lost for the Ivorians as they can still advance to the next stage of the competition as one of the third best team.
With the Gambia and Cameroon set to play on Tuesday, if the game ends in a draw, the Ivorians will qualify.
Additionally, if Morocco defeat Zambia in their last group game, Ivory Coast will secure their ticket to the next stage of the competition.