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African Cup final: Things to know

BATA, Equatorial Guinea — The African Cup of Nations probably got the final it wanted.

Star-studded Ivory Coast and Ghana, Africa's most recent World Cup quarterfinalist, meet Sunday in the decider in Equatorial Guinea.

There will be plenty of Europe-based talent on display, with Yaya Toure, Gervinho and Wilfried Bony for Ivory Coast going up against Ghana's Andre Ayew, Christian Atsu and — if he recovers from injury — Asamoah Gyan.

Here's what you need to know ahead of the African Cup final:

A LONG, LONG WAIT: For one of the West African soccer powers, a long and painful wait will come to an end. For the other, the agony will be extended for at least two years.

Ivory Coast, blessed recently with some of Africa's top soccer talent, hasn't won the Cup of Nations since its only title in 1992, when it beat Ghana in a penalty shootout. Ghana's wait has been even longer, with the last of its four triumphs over 30 years ago.

The Ivorians have lost two finals in the last six tournaments, one of them when current coach Herve Renard led underdog Zambia to an unexpected triumph in 2012. Now leading Ivory Coast, Renard said the title drought should come to an end this weekend.

"In my opinion, it's now time," Renard said Saturday. "But we'll see tomorrow if I'm right."

THE STARS: Although talisman and former skipper Didier Drogba has retired from internationals, Ivory Coast's lineup is still impressive. Manchester City midfielder Toure and Roma forward Gervinho both scored in the 3-1 win over Congo in the semifinals. Bony is one of the hottest strikers in Europe at the moment.

Ghana has top players of its own. Midfielder Ayew is highly rated and Chelsea's Atsu scored a wonder goal in the quarterfinals against Guinea. Gyan is doubtful for the final, though, where Ghana is the obvious underdog.

"We faced a lot of challenges and this is another challenge," Ghana coach Avram Grant said. "This is the last one."

THE COACHES: Former Chelsea coach Grant could have immediate success with Ghana after taking over on Dec. 1. Grant had little time to prepare the squad, and said he spent a lot of time watching videos to catch up.

"It was not easy in a very short time," the Israeli said. "I slept maybe two hours a day."

Three years ago, Frenchman Renard was giving Ivory Coast sleepless nights after his Zambia side, a huge outsider, beat Drogba, Toure and Gervinho in the final. Renard is on the verge of ending the Ivorians' misery, although the country has been here twice before recently, and come up short both times.

"There is no desperation," Renard said, adding his team maybe has the psychological advantage after beating Ghana in 1992.

DREADED PENALTIES? Both teams and both coaches have big history when it comes to penalty shootouts. The shootout has decided every one of Ivory Coast's three previous finals. Ghana lost in '92 but won in '82 on penalties. Grant's Chelsea missed out on club football's biggest prize when defender John Terry missed in a shootout in the 2008 Champions League final, and Grant lost his job days later.

Asked how he was preparing for the possibility of a shootout on Sunday, Grant replied jokingly: "I'm going to call John Terry and ask him."

He added, more seriously: "We need to prepare for any situation that can win the game."

SECURITY: Equatorial Guinea lost in the semifinals, but the host country has one more task: Making sure the final goes off without a hitch. Equatorial Guinea was embarrassed by its fans in the semifinal loss to Ghana, when they threw rocks and other missiles at opposition supporters, causing the game to be held up for over 30 minutes as riot police clashed with the angry fans. Organizers want to be certain nothing like that happens at Sunday's big game.

Gerald Imray is on Twitter at