Ivory Coast Are AFCON 2023 Champions

 Despite losing 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea in the group stages, sacking manager Jean-Louis Gasset mid-tournament and replacing him with assistant Emerse Fae, squeaking past Senegal on penalties in the last 16, grabbing a last-minute equaliser against Mali before edging that quarter-final in extra time… Ivory Coast have somehow come away with the Africa Cup of Nations trophy after the wildest of runs.

Sebastian Haller


Sebastian Haller was the hero as Ivory Coast came from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1 and claim their third Africa Cup of Nations title.

The host nation delighted their fans in Abidjan with Haller completing a wonderful turnaround as he volleyed home the winner nine minutes from time after Franck Kessie cancelled out William Troost-Ekong’s first-half header.

Ivory Coast started brightly and created the better first-half chances with Max Gradel and Simon Adingra going close.

However, it was Nigeria who took the lead seven minutes before the break, when Troost-Ekong nodded home his third goal of the tournament.

The Super Eagles were unbeaten in their previous 22 matches in the competition when scoring first, but the hosts hit back just after the hour mark as Kessie nodded in Adringa’s corner.

Adingra was involved again as the Elephants snatched a dramatic winner in the 81st minute, the Brighton & Hove Albion winger crossing for Haller to prod past Stanley Nwabali at the near post.


TALKING POINT – CANCER SURVIVOR HALLER THE HERO AS HOST NATION COMPLETES AFCON HAT-TRICK


What a journey it has been for Ivory Coast - and what a journey it has been for Sebastian Haller.

Prior to this year, no team had ever finished third in their Africa Cup of Nations group and subsequently gone on to lift the trophy. The Elephants appeared down and out during the group stages. Head coach Jean-Louis Gasset was replaced in the dugout by his assistant Emerse Fae.

After scraping through Group A as the fourth-best third-placed team, Ivory Coast battled past reigning champions Senegal on penalties and needed extra-time to see off Mali. They then overcame Congo DR 1-0 in the semi-final, and have come from behind to complete the most remarkable hat-trick of victories – adding to their triumphs in 1992 and 2015.

And what can we say about Haller? Diagnosed with testicular cancer in July 2022 – for which he received successful treatment – it has been an astonishing journey to this point. Indeed, it has culminated in him striking the crucial goal to help his country become the first host nation to lift this trophy since Egypt in 2006.

Ivory Coast Champion of Africa

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – SIMON ADINGRA (IVORY COAST)

The provider for both of Ivory Coast’s goals, Adingra produced another influential performance for his nation when it mattered most.

No player created more chances (six) or had more touches in the opposition box than the Elephants winger (eight). Adingra also contested the most duels (18) and completed more successful dribbles (five) than any other player, one of which resulting in the delicious ball he delivered for Haller to tuck away.


PLAYER RATINGS

Nigeria: Nwabali 7, Ajayi 7, Troost-Ekong 8, Bassey 8, Aina 7, Onyeka 6, Iwobi 6, Sanusi 7, Chukwueze 5, Osimhen 6, Lookman 6. Subs: Simon 6, Yusuf 5, Iheanacho 5, Aribo N/A, Moffi N/A.

Ivory Coast: Y. Fofana 7, Aurier 6, Kossounou 7, Ndicka 6, Konan 6, Kessie 8, Seri 8, S. Fofana 7, Gradel 8, Haller 8, Adingra 9*. Subs: Diakite 6, Singo 5, Sangare N/A, Krasso N/A, Amani N/A.




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