Ivory Coast fight back to edge Nigeria and win AFCON 2023 after firing coach mid-tournament
Ivory Coast have won the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 victory over Nigeria in Abidjan on Sunday as the Elephants came from one goal down to win at Stade Alassane Ouattara in a fitting end to a memorable tournament.
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Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller got the vital goals for Emerse Fae’s men after William Troost-Ekong gave Jose Peseiro’s Super Eagles the lead and completed the hosts’ comeback for the unexpected victories.
Former manager Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked midway through the tournament, paving the way for Fae to step in as caretaker boss and lead his country through defending champions Senegal on penalties, Mali in extra time and DR Congo on their way to the knockout stages of the country. final.
It completed a remarkable turnaround for the home nation to come close to elimination in Group A after defeats to the Nigerians and Equatorial Guinea only to survive as one of the sides best third place and progress all the way from there.
Nigeria emerged as the other finalists after seeing off Cameroon, Angola and South Africa in third and took the lead through Troost-Ekong’s curling header after 38 minutes which lasted straight after the upper
It was another header, this time for Ivory Coast, that leveled matters on 62 minutes when Simon Adingra provided the first of his two assists when he latched onto Kessie’s unmarked header to defeat Stanley Nwabili.
It was Adingra who set up the winner nine minutes from time when he laid the ball in for Haller to flick home and complete a remarkable personal story following Borussia Dortmund’s battle with testicular cancer.
Nigeria could not find an answer despite a long time being added on at the end and Ivory Coast confirmed their third title which will move them level with the Super Eagles and inspired joy at Stade Alassane Ouattara.
Former Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba was present in Abidjan and was seen taking part in the celebrations as the hosts completed their miraculous recovery to ‘ much to the delight of just over 60,000 spectators.
The Ivorians last won back in 2015 but this is the first time a host nation has won the AFCON title on home soil since seven-time winners Egypt in 2006 when the Elephants were in second place.