HomeSportsIvory Coast crowned champions...

Ivory Coast crowned champions of 2023 Africa Cup of Nations

Sebastien Haller was the hero for Ivory Coast again as the Elephants came from behind to beat Nigeria and win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final on home soil.

The striker, who had also netted the semi-final winner just 13 months on from his return from testicular cancer, flicked in Simon Adingra’s cross with the toe of his boot with nine minutes remaining to complete a second-half comeback and spark wild celebrations in Abidjan.

William Troost-Ekong had put Nigeria ahead seven minutes before the end of a cagey first half when the centre-back rose highest to powerfully head in from nine yards out following a corner.

Franck Kessie nodded in the equaliser in the 62nd minute when he was left unmarked at the back post from Adingra’s corner.

After a remarkable run to the final, which included the departure of coach Jean-Louis Gasset after two defeats in the group stage, the Ivorians clinched a third continental title with a deserved victory.

The West Africans add to their previous Nations Cup wins in 1992 and 2015 and become the first tournament hosts to triumph since Egypt lifted the trophy in 2006.

Interim coach Emerse Fae masterminded Ivory Coast’s passage through the knockout stages, which included dramatic victories over defending champions Senegal and Mali after late equalisers in both games.

Ivory Coast spent more than $1bn (£0.79bn) on hosting the tournament, investing a similar amount on improving infrastructure in the country, and Ivorian President Alassane Outtara joined in the post-match celebrations in the stadium bearing his name.

The Elephants pick up $7m (£5.54m) in prize money, with Nigeria handed $4m by the Confederation of African Football.

Nigeria, three-time continental champions themselves, had previously been unbeaten at the finals, including a 1-0 win over the Ivorians in the group stage, but the Super Eagles rarely imposed themselves after sitting back for most of the contest.

Adingra inspires Elephants turnaround

Sebastien Haller scores for Ivory Coast against Nigeria in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final
Sebastien Haller (left) had also scored the winner for Ivory Coast in their semi-final win over DR Congo

Ivory Coast dominated most of the first half in front of a fervent crowd at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium but failed to carve out chances as Nigeria sat deep and soaked up pressure.

The game sparked into life after the drinks break on the half-hour mark, with Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali blocking Adingra’s shot from a narrow-angle before Nigeria left-back Zaidu Sanusi won a corner when his effort was blocked by Odilon Kossounou.

Ademola Lookman’s inswinging corner was headed up into the air by Ivory Coast midfielder Jean Michael Seri at the near post, and Troost-Ekong leapt above Serge Aurier to guide the ball back across goal and past the despairing dive of Elephants keeper Yahia Fofana.

The Ivorians came out with renewed purpose after the break, with the lively Adingra at the heart of their best moments on the left flank.

A dangerous low cross from the Brighton winger was tipped away by Nwabali and Calvin Bassey made a crucial block to prevent an equaliser after Max Gradel pounced on the loose ball.

Nwabali then had to dive to his right to scramble a long-range shot from Kossounou wide, and the Elephants equalised from the resulting corner as the Nigeria defence somehow failed to pick up Kessie.

The Super Eagles had a chance to retake the lead when Troost-Ekong headed a free-kick from Ademola Lookman wide, but the decisive moment came from an inspired finish by Haller when the Borussia Dortmund man stuck out his right leg to flick Adingra’s cross past Nwabali.

Fairy tale ending for Fae

Ivory Coast players celebrate with the Africa Cup of Nations trophy after beating Nigeria
Emerse Fae (far right, in white) coached Nice’s youth teams and was the reserve team of French Ligue 1 club Clermont before becoming Ivory Coast’s assistant coach in May 2022

The tournament, which was delayed from its intended staging in June and July last year because of weather concerns in West Africa, will live long in the memory after a record number of goals, unrelenting shocks and an apparent capacity for unceasing drama.

Much of that was provided by the hosts, who had appeared on the brink of an early exit after a shock 4-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea in their final Group A outing.

Gasset departed as coach and Fae managed to instil renewed belief after inheriting a side which were given a second life as one of four best-ranked third-placed sides.

Progress had been secured after Morocco – whose national flag Ivory Coast co-captain Max Gradel waved before lifting the trophy – beat Zambia in the final round of group games to stop the southern Africans from stealing their spot.

Elephants supporters had understandably been left reeling after that defeat by the Equatoguineans but rallied behind a side which showed incredible mental fortitude to eliminate Senegal and Mali in two epic ties, prior to a far more routine victory against DR Congo in the semi-finals.

Fae, who was part of the Ivory Coast side that finished runners-up to Egypt in 2006 – a campaign in which he played every minute, has now won Africa’s biggest prize in just his fourth game in senior management.

The resilience of the 40-year-old’s side was underlined as the hosts held their nerve after falling behind against the run of play in front of a sea of orange in the final.

Ivory Coast become the 12 host nation to win the Nations Cup title, while Nigeria will be left to rue a fifth defeat in the showpiece game – and their second in Abidjan after losing to Cameroon in 1984.

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Most Popular

More from Author

Guinness Book of records provides final verdict on Afua Singathon

Guinness Book of records has disqualified Afua Asantewaa Aduonnum after reviewing...

Hajia4Real pleads guilty in $2m romance scam case

Ghanaian social media personality Mona Faiz Montrage, popularly known as Hajia4Real, has...

Bawumia forms manifesto committee [Full list]

Ahead of the 2024 general elections, flagbearer of the New Patriotic...

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu steps down as Majority Leader

The Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for the Suame constituency...

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Guinness Book of records provides final verdict on Afua Singathon

Guinness Book of records has disqualified Afua Asantewaa Aduonnum after reviewing her attempt to break the longest singing marathon. Afua Asantewaa embarked on a five-day singing marathon, commencing at midnight on Sunday, December 24, and concluding at 7:00 am on December 29, 2024. By the time she wrapped up...

Hajia4Real pleads guilty in $2m romance scam case

Ghanaian social media personality Mona Faiz Montrage, popularly known as Hajia4Real, has pleaded guilty in the $2m romance scam case in the United States (U.S). Information on the US Attorney’s Office website, says she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to receive stolen money on Wednesday, February 21. This...

Bawumia forms manifesto committee [Full list]

Ahead of the 2024 general elections, flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Alhaji Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has formed his manifesto committee tasked to develop a more inclusive manifesto that will inure to the benefits of all Ghanaians. The formation of the Committee came just a day after...

Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu steps down as Majority Leader

The Majority Leader and Member of Parliament for the Suame constituency in the Ashanti region, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has formally relinquished his role as the leader of the majority caucus in Parliament. Sources within the New Patriotic Party (NPP) hierarchy said that he willingly offered to step down during...

Baba Rahman COLLAPSES in Greek Cup game

Ghana, defender Abdul Baba Rahman has regained consciousness following a concerning incident during a semi-final clash in the Greek Cup on Wednesday evening. Rahman, playing as a left-back, suffered a loss of consciousness after a collision with an opponent during the match between Panathinaikos and PAOK. The unfortunate event...

Asamoah Gyan gets first political appointment

Asamoah Gyan has made his first significant step into politics. The ex-Ghana captain has been named on the New Patriotic Party’s Flagbearer for the 2024 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia’s, Manifesto Committee. Gyan, Ghana’s all-time top scorer has agreed to serve as the lead adviser for “Youth...

I can never be Bawumia’s running mate – Kennedy Agyapong

Assin Central Member of Parliament, Kennedy Agyapong, has indicated that he will never be Vice President of Ghana. He says he is a vocal individual and therefore cannot be relegated to being a vice president, where he cannot be expressive. “I can never be a vice president because I...

PHOTO: Ghanaian SHOT dead in Canada

A 39-year-old Ghanaian identified as Adu Boakye has been shot dead in Toronto, Canada. According to the Toronto Police Service, the incident occurred on Saturday, February 17, 2024 at approximately 3 pm in the Jane Street and Driftwood Avenue area while Adu Boakye was waiting at a bus...

Kufuor, Akufo-Addo and others named advisors to NPP’s campaign team

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has concluded its campaign structure for the upcoming 2024 national elections, with appointments made to various national campaign committees. This decision was reached during the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and National Council meetings held on Monday, February 19, 2024. Former President John Agyekum...

Know all venues for the 13th African Games

With the set date for the 13th African Games to be hosted in Ghana fast approaching, the venues where the various competitions will be held have been announced. The tournament is a 15-day event which will take place between March 8, 2024 and March 23. The Borteyman Sports Complex will host...

PHOTOS: Bawumia consoles family of late Oman FM Journalist

The leadership of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia over the weekend called on the family of the late Oman FM presenter, Martin Kwabena Kwakye alias Wofa KK at his residence in Accra. The Vice President who was in the company of...

Couple who went missing on Val’s Day found dead inside car

An Alabama couple who disappeared on Valentine’s Day were found dead inside their vehicle on Friday, Birmingham police announced Saturday. Christian Norris, 20, and his girlfriend, Angeliyah Webster, also 20, were last seen on Valentine’s Day when they left in a white Ford Taurus to go on a date to the...