AFCON Final: Ivory Coast beat Nigeria to win third continental championship

AFCON Final: Ivory Coast beat Nigeria to win third continental championship
Ivory Coast players celebrate with their president after winning the 2023 AFCON title at the expense of Nigeria. CIV won 2-1. (Photo credit: GOAL)


If anyone had handed Nigerians a semifinal berth at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations, you do not doubt that the strongest of fans would have collected it and run off before mind changes.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria suffered defeat at the finals of the 2023 AFCON, losing to the host on a night the whole of Africa and the world at large watched on as two giants collided in Ivory Coast. It was a game of huge significance.

The fairytale run of Ivory Coast, which climaxed at the altar of glory with a Simon Adingra-inspired elephant, took the game to Nigeria. Who would have thought a team that was on the brink of elimination in the group stages would go all the way to securing the title?

Coach Jose Peseiro made two changes to the team that started against South Africa: Moses Simon was replaced by Samuel Chukwueze, Zaidu Sanusi returned at right back, and Samuel Osayi returned to the bench.

It was Nigeria that took the lead in the first half through their inspirational skipper, William Troost Ekong. His first half-header sent Nigerians into celebrations across the country and beyond, but the hosts dominated the entire first half with more shots and possession.

The Elephants made changes in the second half, and it proved the difference: Frank Kessie headed home the leveler after the hour mark, and shortly after the cooling break, Simon Adingra crossed into the Nigerian area, and Sebastien Haller toe-poked past Stanley Nwabali in the Nigerian goal.

Nigeria went for the equalizer, but the hosts stood firm, defending every cross into their penalty area intelligently. The win handed the hosts their third AFCON triumph, going level with Nigeria, who last won the trophy in 2013.

William Troost Ekong won the player of the tournament, while Ron Williams of South Africa was voted the best goalkeeper. Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea went home with the Golden Boot with five goals, and the Bafana-Bafana won the Fair Play award.

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Footballnus | Stay updated on the latest football news, analysis and betting predictions: AFCON Final: Ivory Coast beat Nigeria to win third continental championship
AFCON Final: Ivory Coast beat Nigeria to win third continental championship
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