Reports, Sports

Ivory Coast Defeats Nigeria To Clinch 2024 AFCON Title

Nmesoma Okwudili


February 14, 2024

On February 11, 2024, the climactic conclusion of the 2024 CAF AFCON tournament unfolded at the Stade Alassane Ouattara in Côte d’Ivoire, where the Super Eagles of Nigeria clashed with the Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire in a thrilling final. The intense matchup captivated football enthusiasts as Ivory Coast staged a remarkable comeback, securing victory and clinching the AFCON title on their home turf.

The last meeting between the two teams in the group stage, in which Nigeria prevailed by a slim 1-0 margin, was significantly different from this result. But in the end, the thrilling ninety minutes of play proved how unexpected football can be, as Ivory Coast proved by their skill and tenacity to win the championship. The Elephants celebrated their victory and cemented this incredible accomplishment in the annals of CAF AFCON lore. The Stade Alassane Ouattara saw a momentous event in AFCON history.

Ivory Coast, who are the host nation, dismissed their manager after the group stage of the tournament and repeatedly came back from the brink of elimination for most of their games during the tournament. They even managed to pull off the same feat in the final to secure the nation’s 3rd AFCON trophy and secured a famous triumph on home soil that had the people of Ivory Coast dancing long into the night.

In a stunning turn of events, Ivory Coast won the Africa Cup of Nations title clinched in dramatic fashion, thanks to Sebastien Haller’s wonderfully clinical close-range strike that dashed Nigeria’s aspirations.

The Super Eagles, led by the ever-fantastic captain and tournament MVP William Troost-Ekong, initially led with an impressive first-half header, showcasing Troost-Ekong’s ability to grab attention on and off the field. However, Franck Kessie of Ivory Coast had a different intention, ensuring the scoreboard read level in the 62nd minute, setting the stage for the dramatic conclusion.

As the clock ticked down, the tension increased, with less than 10 minutes remaining, Haller delivered the knockout blow, breaking Nigerian hearts and sealing Ivory Coast’s triumph.

The unexpected nature of Haller’s heroics was not lost on those aware of his recent history. Just 18 months ago, he found himself in a hospital bed, grappling with a testicular tumour. Little did he know that instead of dwelling on the past, he would live a dream moment on the football pitch, proving that life has a sense of humour even in the most unexpected ways. From a hospital bed to a game-winning goal – Haller’s journey added a touch of both inspiration and whimsy to Ivory Coast’s AFCON victory.

In the 81st minute, the 29-year-old capitalized on Simon Adingra’s inch perfect cross and sent the Alassane Ouattara Stadium into a frenzy. Although Haller nearly missed out on this competition because of a medical condition. He traveled to Ivory Coast a few weeks before the rest of the squad met up to work on his fitness, and although the Dortmund forward missed all of their group-stage games and made his return as a substitute in the last 16 against Senegal, Haller can still make a strong claim for being the most influential player at this tournament.

Ivory Coast’s game plan against Nigeria was centred around crossing the ball into the box as much as possible for him to attack.

Although Nigeria came into this year’s AFCON boasting an array of fine attacking talents but this was no match for the defence of the elephants of Côte d’ivoire, their triumph came down to defensive resilience.

While he was unable to lead his nation to their 4th AFCON title and the 1st in over 10 years, the player of the tournament and captain fantastic Troost-Ekong, who was a rock at the back throughout the tournament, finishes the tournament with four more goals than Victor Osimhen, the reigning African Footballer of the Year.

Overall, Troost-Ekong has now scored five goals at the Africa Cup of Nations, the most by a centre-back in history. Unfortunately for Troost-Ekong and the Super Eagles of Nigeria, they fell short of the title they desired. A heartfelt congratulations go out to host nation Côte d’ivoire for claiming their 3rd AFCON title.


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