In a thrilling Africa Cup of Nations final, the Super Eagles of Nigeria suffered heartbreak as Ivory Coast came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory and claim their third continental title.
The match, held at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium in Abidjan, saw Nigeria take the lead late in the first half when captain William Troost-Ekong headed in a goal.
However, the Ivorians equalized in the second half through Franck Kessie and sealed their victory with a dramatic late winner from Sebastien Haller.
The triumph for Ivory Coast adds to their previous titles in 1992 and 2015, and also brings them level with Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall.
Led by Victor Osimhen, the reigning African player of the year, Nigeria had been a formidable team throughout the competition.
However, the sense of destiny and determination displayed by Ivory Coast proved too strong.
This victory holds special significance for Ivory Coast as they become the first host country to win the AFCON since 2006.
The team’s journey to the final was marked by resilience and determination, overcoming a heavy defeat in the group stage and changing coaches mid-tournament.
Coach Emerse Fae described the achievement as “greater than a fairytale” and praised the team’s ability to come back from difficult moments.
The final was a tense affair, with few scoring opportunities for both teams.
Ivory Coast showed great character by regrouping after falling behind and throwing everything at Nigeria.
Their efforts were rewarded with Kessie’s equalizing goal and Haller’s late winner.
Nigeria, unable to react, conceded their first lead since the opening match and were unable to recover.
Despite the disappointment, Nigeria’s coach Jose Peseiro acknowledged the superior performance of Ivory Coast and praised his team’s efforts.
This article was updated 1 week ago