RUSTENBURG, South Africa, Jan 21 (Reuters) - A world away from freezing England, Tottenham Hotspur’s Emmanuel Adebayor tries to settle a score with ex-Chelsea striker Didier Drogba when Togo face Ivory Coast at the sweltering African Nations Cup on Tuesday.
Two of Africa’s most successful players have been rivals for years and Adebayor is hoping his Togo side will put Drogba’s Ivory Coast to the sword in their opening Group D match and go some way to making him feel better about last season.
First Chelsea crushed Spurs 5-1 in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, subsequently going on to win the final against Liverpool as Drogba became the first man to score in four FA Cup finals.
Then in May, Drogba ended his hugely successful career at Chelsea by scoring a late equaliser against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final before converting the winning penalty in the shootout and simultaneously depriving Adebayor’s Spurs a place in this season’s competition.
Spurs had finished fourth in the Premier League and Chelsea sixth, meaning that Spurs were heading for the Champions League as long as Chelsea did not win the final.
“It was very tough to take,” Adebayor told reporters. “It was a like a very bad defeat even though we did not play in the match itself. But things change quickly in football and there is always a chance to turn a failure, or a perceived failure into a success.”
Drogba likens Ivory Coast, among the favourites for the African title, to Barcelona and Bayern who both lost to Chelsea when they took the European crown.
“Who decides who are favourites? It’s not us thinking about ourselves for the title,” he said last week.
“Barcelona and Bayern were favoured against us last season but we won the Champions League. You never can tell what will happen in football.”
Adebayor, on loan last season but now a permanent signing for the London club, was left ruing what might have been but Spurs have responded well this season and are again fourth in the Premier League and on course for a Champions League place.
Without Drogba’s reliability after he joined Shanghai Shenhua, Chelsea became the first holders to fail to advance past the Champions League group stage and instead will be in the Europa League when European club competition resumes next month.
Drogba is now back in his national team’s colours trying to seal an elusive Nations Cup title after twice finishing as runner-up for the 1992 winners.
Unlike his successful spot kick in the Champions League final, he missed a penalty in the 2012 African Nations Cup final against Zambia and the decisive kick in the 2006 shootout in Egypt.
Adebayor, for one, will not be unhappy to see him miss again. (Editing by Mark Meadows; firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; email@example.com)