By Chris Harris

Gervinho admits that his missed penalty at the Africa Cup of Nations was a low point in his career - but he believes he will be stronger for the experience.

The Ivory Coast star encountered ups and downs at this year's tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, scoring a sparkling winner in the semi-final against Mali only to miss a vital spot-kick in the final against Zambia.

Gervinho's team lost that penalty shoot-out 8-7 having started the game as firm favourites to lift the trophy and it took the Arsenal man time to put it behind him.

"It was hard, it's very difficult getting to the final and then losing on penalties," Gervinho told Arsenal Player.

"It was a disappointment with the penalty, as the team suffered, and in hindsight it was one of the toughest moments of my career. But I've had lots of other hard times. Missing out on a big title was hard, but I've had other setbacks in my career and come through them.

"If you'd have told us at the start of the tournament that we'd be there in the final at the end, we would have taken it, but at the end of the day that's football. There are always winners and losers, but being with the Ivory Coast, you pick up so much, it's a great experience, even though it was difficult for us.

"We had our big disappointment in the final of course, but we'll try to make up for it next year, that's our big motivation. I think that every time we take part in the tournament there is a great desire and determination to win it and we can use our disappointment from this year to try and do better in 2013.

"We'll keep hoping and hoping and believing that one day, we'll win this tournament. We played well and we'll keep working towards that."

Ivory Coast's loss was Zambia's gain, of course, and Gervinho believes that their emergence underlines the depth of quality in African football.

"In my opinion, African football has been improving every year," he said. "I think that it's already got to a very good level with all the teams and good players of a very good quality.

"African football is coming up to a good level, even if we saw to our cost with the performance of Zambia in the tournament, but this competition will make it easier all [African footballers] to progress and we should all be happy with that."

Watch the full interview with Gervinho on Arsenal Player.

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15 Mar 2012