Gradel: Payback for Ivory Coast's golden generation
Max Gradel described Sunday's dramatic Africa Cup of Nations triumph as a reward the Ivory Coast's "golden generation".
Ivory Coast claimed their first AFCON title since 1992 by beating Ghana 9-8 on penalties at Estadio de Bata after a drab final was goalless after extra-time.
Having lost on penalties in 2006 and 2012, midfielder Gradel felt it was high time Ivory Coast avoided more heartbreak and gave credit to Ghana for the manner in which they frustrated Herve Renard's side.
Gradel told SuperSport: "The Black Stars of Ghana stunned us. They resisted us and could have even opened the scoring.
"As the game progressed, we believed we could find a breach and eventually find the net but Ghana's back half was as solid as a rock, thanks to the likes of John Boye
"The penalty quickly reminded us of the 2012 AFCON against Zambia which we narrowly lost. We said to ourselves it wouldn't happen again. I think this victory is a recompense for this golden footballer generation, although some have left and there are newcomers.
"Ghana have no reasons to regret or shed tears. They played good football and could have as well won the trophy"
Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry was Ivory Coast's hero, saving a spot-kick from Ghana opposite number Razak Braimah and then converting from 12 yards himself to seal victory.