Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: CAF AFCON 2023 final preview | Africa Cup of Nations News

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WHO: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast
What: CAF AFCON 2023 Final
When: Sunday, February 11, 2024, 20:00 GMT
Where: Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, Ivory Coast

Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro has tried to tag his team as favorites for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations crown as he talks about his African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen.

The Super Eagles will face the hosts, Ivory Coast, who they beat 1-0 at the group stage in the final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday.

The Elephants were almost eliminated at the first hurdle after also losing to Equatorial Guinea in the final group stage match, and parted ways with their manager Jean-Louis Gasset while they were waiting for clarification if they would go on as one of the best four in third place. – set finishers.

“There is no one favorite in the final,” said the Portuguese coach. “Each side has a 50 percent chance, but we are determined to win this final.”

Osimhen, meanwhile, has received praise from his former coach for his work rate and performance at the tournament.

The Napoli striker earned his side a point in Nigeria’s opening game against Equatorial Guinea but has yet to find the net again.

“He doesn’t play like he’s a star. He fights for the team and is completely unselfish,” said Peseiro.

“He knows he is an important player and he gives us the best energy. He has suffered a lot in this competition with all the attention he gets from opposing defenders because he knows it’s a team game.”

Ivory Coast’s interim coach, Emerse Fae, was not his country’s first choice to replace the departing Gasset but now he is in charge of his country in the final.

Now Fae can join an elite list of managers who have won the Africa Cup of Nations just weeks after taking charge of a senior game for the first time.

It would be a remarkable achievement for the 40-year-old French-born former Ivorian international to play for his country in the 2006 final – albeit on the losing side.

He had been Gasset’s assistant over the past 18 months so he knew what had happened and what needed to be done.

“We had difficult days emotionally and mentally and we came through the back door,” Fae admitted. “It was terrible to lose 4-0 at home, and then we had to wait . Honestly, it was very difficult to work, to heal the wounds while crossing your fingers.”

Fae made several key changes and the Ivorians showed remarkable mental strength in overcoming holders Senegal in the last 16 and neighbors Mali in the quarter-finals, coming from behind in both game

Their semi-final victory over the Democratic Republic of the Congo continued their comeback. Local media have nicknamed Fae the “Special One”.

“No, no, no, that’s not true,” he replied on Saturday when asked about the tag first used for Portugal coach Jose Mourinho.

“It’s been a collection for all of us to get here.”

Nigerian players to watch

The African Footballer of the Year is yet to find his goal at this tournament but has earned praise from his coach for his work rate and performance.

Ademola Lookman

The former Everton striker scored the three goals that led his side to the round of 16 and quarter-final wins against Cameroon and Angola. Where Osimhen draws the attention of several opposition players in and out of possession, he has created openings for others which Lookman has taken full advantage of.

William Troost-Ekong

The skipper has been a leader in every way for his side. The defensive rock of the team, which has only conceded two goals in the tournament, Troost-Ekong has also conceded two penalties, including one against Ivory Coast in the group, in normal time and netted in his ‘ win against South Africa.

Ivory Coast players to watch

Sebastian Haller

The Borussia Dortmund striker was only fit enough to start for the first time in the tournament against DRC in the semi-final. It was his goal, although it was a missed kick, that sent the Elephants to the final. As much as the Ivorian’s win would be a stunning finish to this edition, it would also mark a stunning comeback for Haller, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2022.

Simon Adingra

The Brighton and Hove Albion player is becoming a sensation at the tournament and is undoubtedly a fan favorite among the host nation’s supporters. Every time the ball reaches Adingra’s feet the level of anticipation and volume inside the stands builds. It was Adingra who scored the 90th minute equalizer against Mali in the semi-final which took the tie to extra time.

French Kessie

The midfielder signed for Al-Alhi in the Saudi Pro League last year has been one of the hottest properties in European football for some time. The 27-year-old joined Serie A club Atalanta as a teenager before being snapped up by Italian giants AC Milan in 2019. Barcelona brought Kessie, who has been a leader in midfield, to Spain in 2022 before he moved. to Saudi Arabia.

Form instructions

Nigeria: WWWWW
Ivory Coast: LLWWW

Prize money

Champions: $7m
Second place: $4m

Head-to-head table:

Games: 12
Nigeria won: 4
Ivory Coast won: 6
Drawing: 2

Team news

Nigeria will be hoping for a repeat of the abdominal complaint that caused Osimhen to travel a day later than the rest of the team for their semi-final.

Left-back Zaidu Sanusi missed the semi-final with South Africa due to a hamstring injury but will be given a late fitness test ahead of the final, having been stabilized ahead of the meeting with Bafana Bafana.

Nigeria Expected Starting XI: Stanley Nwabali, Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman.

Ivory Coast welcome back suspended pair Odilon Kossounou and Oumar Diakire, who were both sent off in the quarter-final win over Mali. Kossounou was a starter in that game and is expected to return to defense in place of Willy Bolly.

Expected Ivory Coast starting XI: Yahia Fofana, Wilfried Singo, Odilon Kossounou, Evan Ndicka, Ghislain Konan, Frank Kessiรฉ, Jean-Michael Seri, Seko Fofana, Max Gradel, Sebastian Haller, Simon Adingra.

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