After finishing 3rd place in Group A, host nation Ivory Coast have turned giant killers at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) giving teams their first defeat at the AFCON.
The Elephants made it as one of the best third-placed teams heading into the knockout stage and even sacked its coach with the hope the tournament was over for the team.
But Morocco’s 1-0 win over Zambia in Group F ensured Ivory Coast finished as the fourth-best third-place team, thus just qualifying for the knockout stage.
Since reaching the knockout stage, it has been a rejuvenated Ivory Coast side knocking out tournament favourites, setting a new 2023 AFCON record by defeating teams that have yet to lose a match.
Here, BusinessDay takes stock of how The Elephants worked their way into the final of the 2023 AFCON in a dramatic manner.
Eliminated Senegal in the Round of 16
The Elephants met Senegal in the Round of Sixteen stage and before that match, The Teranga Lions had not lost any match, they won all their three group stage matches and topped the group with 9 points. But were eliminated by Ivory Coast in a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout.
Dramatic win against Mali
Also, The Eagles of Mali got their first defeat in the quarter-finals by Cote d’Ivoire and were eliminated.
In a dramatic quarter-final at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake, the Elephants pulled an incredible surprise comeback despite being reduced to 10 men to beat Mali 2-1 after extra time and reach the semi-finals.
DR Congo ouster
Ivory Coast’s fairytale run in the Africa Cup of Nations also continued against DR Congo. Having sacked their head coach during the group stages, the host nation are only one step away from winning the tournament after securing a 1-0 win over DR Congo on Wednesday night.
Heading into Sunday’s final against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who are also undefeated in the tournament, Ivory Coast will hope to end their fairy tale in style.
With these stats, it’s a wake-up call for the Super Eagles and the technical team to be wary of Ivory Coast, especially playing at home ground in front of 60,000 fans cheering the team at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Friday, February 11.