Top players to watch in 2015 AFCON: Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast)

Wilfried Bony
Japan's Makoto Hasebe, right, and Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony go for a header during the group C World Cup soccer match between Ivory Coast and Japan at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014 (Photo: AP)
Ahram Online
Thursday 8 Jan 2015
Wilfried Bony might be the man entrusted with filling the void left by the international retirement of talisman Didier Drogba as Ivory Coast seek to win the African Cup of Nations title for the first time since 1992.

The Swansea City man, along with Gervinho of AS Roma, will shoulder the burden of converting any chances the Elephants create at the Equatorial Guinea finals, thanks to a series of superb displays that prompted reigning Premier League champions Manchester City to try to lure him, according to English reports.

Bony, who made his Ivory Coast debut in 2010, has been mainly playing a bit-part role with his national team, with prolific hitman Drogba stealing the limelight.

But it’s probably Bony’s turn to become the main striker and spearhead Ivory Coast’s attack in a group that also includes Cameroon, Guinea and Mali.

Although he netted only once during their qualifying run, which saw them finish runners-up in Group D behind Cameroon, his Premier League scoring run has been remarkable, having scored more goals than any other striker in the elite competition last year.

Bony bagged 20 goals to become the Premier League’s top scorer in the calendar year of 2014, outshining the likes of Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

“Drogba is no longer there, but the pressure remains the same on the Côte d'Ivoire. We must get results,” Bony told in an interview in October.

The pacy frontman has become a cult figure at Swansea since joining from Dutch side Vitesse in the summer of 2013, scoring 34 goals in 18 months.

“I have two more years of contract. I feel confident with Swansea. I’m happy here,” he was quoted as saying by English media.

“If anything happened - I don’t think about that. I am just thinking about the African Cup. Getting linked with other clubs, it’s football. If nothing happened we can deal with that.”

Bony, who started his career at Ivorian side Issia Wazi and has also played for Sparta Prague and Vitesse before joining Swansea, has scored 11 goals in 32 appearances with Ivory Coast.

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