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Ivory Coast Win Africa Cup of Nations

by Maryam Olaniyi
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Ivory Coast win Africa Cup of Nations the third time on Sunday by beating Nigeria 2-1 in the final.

Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller got the goals for the host nation after William Troost-Ekong had given Nigeria a first-half lead.

Seko Fofana and Serge Aurier also featured for Ivory Coast in Sunday’s final, while 2023 African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen was on the losing team.

Ivory Coast players and fans pictured celebrating after Sebastian Haller’s winning goal against Nigeria in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final in Abidjan.

These two teams had met earlier in the tournament when Nigeria won 1-0 during the group phase.

Troost-Ekong scored the only goal of that game and he netted again to put Nigeria in front 38 minutes into Sunday’s final.

The former Watford defender headed home powerfully from eight yards after Ademola Lookman’s corner kick had been flicked on at the near post.

That goal came against the run of play, after Ivory Coast had dominated the contest in terms of possession and chances.

The hosts continued to look like the better side after falling behind and deservedly equalized in the 62nd minute when ex-Barcelona midfielder Kessie nodded in from a Simon Adingra corner.

Adingra also assisted the winning goal, which arrived 19 minutes later when his wicked cross from the left was diverted into the net by a deft touch off Haller’s outstretched right boot.

Haller’s goal sent the crowd at Alassane Ouattara Stadium wild, including former captain Didier Drogba.

Sunday’s victory over Nigeria came 18 days after Jean-Louis Gasset had lost his job as Ivory Coast manager.

The Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF) dismissed Gasset on January 24 after Les Elephants had been beaten in two of their three group games.

It looked as though the tournament hosts were set for an early exit, but results elsewhere eventually meant that three points were enough to take them through to the round of 16.

The FIF tried but failed to hire Herve Renard to lead the team into the knockout stage, leaving Emerse Fae in the role of interim head coach.

Fae oversaw a penalty-shootout victory over reigning champions Senegal in the last 16, followed by a 2-1 win over Mali in the quarter-finals thanks to a 122nd-minute winner by Oumar Diakite.

DR Congo were then beaten 1-0 in the semi-final before Fae’s side got the better of three-time champions Nigeria in Sunday’s finale.

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