• Saturday, March 02, 2024
businessday logo


AFCON: Gallant Super Eagles finish second


Gallant Super Eagles of Nigeria claimed a second finish at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after losing 2-1 to Ivory Coast in the final match played on Sunday at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.

Super Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong broke the deadlock in the 38 minute to make Nigeria deserve a 1-0 lead, but Franck Kessie equalised through a powerful header from the corner in 62 minutes of play, Sébastien Haller scored the winning goal for Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast have become the fifth nation to win this tournament for a third time:

Nigeria came into this match unbeaten in their past 22 AFCON games when scoring first, a streak dating back to 2010.

After winning the 1980, 1990 and 2013 editions, Nigeria were chasing a fourth AFCON glory but will have to wait for the 2025 edition.

Troost-Ekong headed in a bullet header past the Ivory Coast goalkeeper.

to record his third goal of the tournament, and second against Ivory Coast.

The Nigerian defender scored the winner for the Super Eagles in the group stages over Ivory Coast and now Nigeria beat the host nation twice in AFCON for the first time since 2006.

Nigeria booked their place in the final after defeating South Africa 4-2 in penalty shootouts after a thrilling 1-1 draw in extra time.

The Super Eagles started their campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea, but Peseiro responded by deploying a new system featuring three central defenders, and two supporting wingers.

Victor Osimhen took 24 shots in this tournament but scored only one goal.

Since 2010, only one player has taken as many shots and recorded as poor a conversion rate at this tournament, Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan with 25 shots and one goal in 2013.

Nigeria is now tied with Ghana for the most AFCON final defeats. Each nation have been runners-up at this tournament five times.

Before the final match against Ivory Nigeria had only conceded one goal in their last five matches, and that was a penalty in the semi-final against South Africa.

After a remarkable run to the final, which included the departure of coach Jean-Louis Gasset after two defeats in the group stage, Emerse Faé was appointed the interim manager.

Interim coach Fae led Ivory Coast through the knockout stages, with dramatic victories over defending champions Senegal and Mali.

Fae has been added to Ivory Coast’s AFCON laurels in 1992 and 2015 and become the first tournament hosts to triumph since Egypt lifted the trophy in 2006.

Faé also became the first manager to win the Africa Cup of Nations without starting the tournament as head coach of his team.