Ivory Coast defies the odds to win AFCON 2023

Ivory Coast defied the odds to ensure they win the African Nations Cup they hosted.

The Elephants came from a goal down to beat favourites Nigeria 2-1 in the finals played at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Ivory Coast had qualified to the knockouts as the fourth best third place team, having won only one and lost twice in the group stages, including a humiliating 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea.

This dismal performance saw the head coach, Jean-Louis Gasset sacked and Emerse Faé was unusually appointed as his replacement.

On the round of 16, Ivory Coast needed an 86th minute equalizer to ensure the game went into extra time where they eliminated favourites Senegal on penalties.

In the quarterfinals, Ivory Coast played with 10 men from the 43rd minute and scored a 9th minute equalizer, before scoring in stoppage time of the extra time to eliminate Mali.

In the semifinals, the Elephants beat DR Congo, thanks to a 65th minute winner to ensure the team stormed the finals.

Edges favourites Nigeria

In a first half dominated by Ivory Coast, Nigeria sat deep and soaked up pressure and with seven minutes to the end of the first stanza,  William Troost-Ekong put the Super Eagles  ahead .

The Ivorians came out with renewed purpose after the break, with the lively Adingra at the heart of their best moments on the left flank.

The Elephants equalised from a corner as the Nigeria defence somehow failed to pick up  Frank Kessie in the 62nd minute.

The decisive moment came from an inspired finish by Sebastien Haller when the Borussia Dortmund man stuck out his right leg to flick Adingra’s cross past Nwabali with nine minutes to the final whistle.

It was a moment to celebrate for Haller who had missed the start of the tournament through injury to score the winner in front of the country’s President, Alassane Ouattara, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the CAF president Patrice Motsepe who all graced the finals.

Ivory Coast became the 12th host nation to win the Nations Cup title, while Nigeria rued a fifth defeat in the showpiece game – and their second in Abidjan after losing to Cameroon in 1984.

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