Haller gives Ivory Coast victory in Afcon final
Sebastien Haller once again proved to be the protagonist for Ivory Coast, leading them to a victory over Nigeria in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final, after trailing behind in the game, all played on Ivory Coast's home turf.
Nigeria took the lead just seven minutes before the end of a cautious first half when William Troost-Ekong, the central defender, leapt the highest to head a powerful shot from nine yards after a corner.
In the 62nd minute of the game, Franck Kessie managed to secure the tie by scoring an unchallenged header at the rear post from Adingra's corner.
The Ivorians had an impressive journey to the final, even though their coach Jean-Louis Gasset left the team following two losses in the group stages. They ultimately earned their third continental championship with a well-deserved win.
West Africans have won the Nations Cup twice before, in 1992 and 2015. They have now become the first tournament hosts to win since Egypt in 2006.
Emerse Fae, the current caretaker coach, played a crucial role in leading Ivory Coast to the next stage of the competition. The team achieved this feat by securing nail-biting wins against Senegal and Mali, with last-minute equalizers in both matches.
The Ivory Coast expended over $1 billion dollars in organizing the tournament and dedicated a commensurate amount towards enhancing the country's infrastructure. The President of Ivory Coast, Alassane Outtara, participated in the festivities following the match held within the confines of the stadium that goes by his name.
The Elephants received prize money worth $7 million dollars (equivalent to £5.54 million pound), while Nigeria was awarded $4 million dollars by the Confederation of African Football.
Nigeria, who have won the continental championship three times, were unbeaten at the finals before facing the Ivorians. They were able to secure a victory over the Ivorians in the group stage with a 1-0 score. However, during the finals, the Super Eagles didn't dominate the game as they mostly focused on defending.
Adingra Sparks Elephant Revival
During the first half of the match at Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Ivory Coast took control of the game with the support of their enthusiastic fans. However, they were unable to create opportunities as Nigeria defended deep and withstood the constant pressure.
The match became more active after the players took a break to have some drinks at the half-hour point. Stanley Nwabali, the Nigerian goalkeeper, prevented Adingra from scoring a goal by blocking his shot from a difficult angle. Zaidu Sanusi, Nigeria's left-back, managed to earn his team a corner by taking a shot that was blocked by Odilon Kossounou.
Ademola Lookman curved the ball inward during a corner kick, and Jean Michael Seri from Ivory Coast headed it upwards towards the near post. Troost-Ekong jumped higher than Serge Aurier to redirect the ball towards the goal, beating the Elephants keeper Yahia Fofana who made a futile dive to try and save it.
The team from Ivory Coast came back on the field with a new drive and determination, led by the energetic Adingra who was instrumental in creating their most promising opportunities on the left side of the pitch.
The Brighton football player made a harmful pass close to the ground which was saved by Nwabali. Then, Calvin Bassey made a vital defense action to stop the opposing team from scoring when Max Gradel quickly grabbed the ball.
Afterwards, Nwabali had to jump towards his right to prevent Kossounou's long distance shot from going into the goal. Following this, the Ivory Coast was able to tie the game when Kessie was left unmarked by the Nigerian defense during the corner kick.
The Super Eagles had an opportunity to take the lead again. Troost-Ekong missed a free-kick coming from Ademola Lookman by heading it wide. However, the moment that sealed the victory came through an impressive finish by Haller. The Borussia Dortmund player used his right leg to flick Adingra's cross past Nwabali.
Happy Ending For Fae's Fairy Tale
The competition, originally planned for June and July last year in West Africa, was postponed due to weather issues. It will be remembered for the high amount of goals scored, unexpected outcomes, and continuous excitement.
The majority of that was contributed by the hosts, who almost got eliminated in the beginning due to a surprising 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea in their last game of Group A.
Gasset left as the coach and Fae was able to restore confidence after taking over a team that was granted a second chance as one of the top four third-place teams.
Advancement was achieved when Morocco won against Zambia in the final round of group matches, preventing the southern Africans from taking their place and securing a victory. Ivory Coast co-captain Max Gradel waved the Moroccan national flag before lifting the trophy in celebration.
Fans of the elephants were understandably upset after experiencing a crushing defeat on their home turf. However, they came together to support their team which demonstrated immense mental strength when they defeated Senegal and Mali in two thrilling matches before securing an easier win against DR Congo in the semi-finals.
Fae, who was a member of the Ivory Coast team that came in second place to Egypt in 2006 - a tournament where he played the entirety of each match, has presently achieved victory in Africa's most significant championship in only his fourth game as a senior manager.
The 40-year-old's team showed their strong resilience during the final game, where they remained calm even after losing a goal that was unexpected given their strong performance. This happened in front of a crowd wearing orange jerseys.
The Ivory Coast team won their first Nations Cup title as a host nation, making them the 12th country to achieve this feat. On the other hand, Nigeria is disappointed with their performance and their fifth defeat in the big game, as well as their second loss in Abidjan, with their last defeat being against Cameroon in 1984.
The game is over, with a score of Nigeria 1 and Côte d'Ivoire 2.
The second half of the game has come to an end with Nigeria having scored one goal and Côte d'Ivoire having scored two goals.
The referee gave Evan Ndicka, who hails from Côte d'Ivoire, a yellow card.
Ibrahim Sangaré from Ivory Coast was able to obtain a free kick within the defensive part of the field.
Terem Moffi (Nigeria) has committed a foul.
The shot taken by Alhassan Yusuf from Nigeria using his right foot outside of the box missed to the left after a set play.
Oumar Diakité (Côte d'Ivoire) has committed a foul.
Calvin Bassey, hailing from Nigeria, has managed to earn a free kick in the defensive half.
The attempt made by Wilfried Singo from Côte d'Ivoire was not successful. He shot the ball with his left foot from a distance outside the box but it went wide to the left of the goal. Ibrahim Sangaré provided assistance for the shot.
Oumar Diakité (from Côte d'Ivoire) committed a foul.
On the left side of the field, Ola Aina from Nigeria has been awarded a free kick.
In the game of soccer, there was a substitution made by the team from Côte d'Ivoire. Jean Seri was taken out of the match and Lazare Amani was put in as his replacement.
Ola Aina from Nigeria has received a yellow card due to a foul play.
Simon Adingra from Ivory Coast receives a chance to take a free kick in their own half of the field.
The referee has called a violation by Ola Aina from Nigeria.
The attack was prevented. Kelechi Iheanacho from Nigeria took a shot with his left foot from the centre of the box, but the effort was blocked by a defender. Joe Aribo provided the pass to Iheanacho.
Jean-Philippe Krasso (Côte d'Ivoire) has committed a foul.
Calvin Bassey from Nigeria has managed to secure a free kick in the defensive half of the field.
In Côte d'Ivoire, there was a substitution during the game. Seko Fofana had to leave the field due to an injury and was replaced by Ibrahim Sangaré.
Switching up the players, Jean-Philippe Krasso takes the place of Sébastien Haller in Côte d'Ivoire.