AFCON - Nigeria v Ivory Coast

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2023 Africa Cup of Nations
Nigeria v Ivory Coast
Alassane Ouattara Stadium
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Sunday, 11 February 2024
Kick-off is at 21h00 
Ivory Coast will be looking to become the ninth team to win the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil when they lock horns with neighbours Nigeria in the 2023 final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Sunday, February 11.
Not since Tunisia in 2004 has the hosts won the tournament in their own backyard and the Elephants are hoping to achieve the feat for the first time in their history.
Cote d'Ivoire have contested the final four times, winning the title in 1992 and 2015, while they finished runners-up in 2006 and 2012.
Emerse Fae's side almost didn't make it out of the group stages though, after they scraped through as the fourth-best third-placed team on goal difference ahead of Ghana and Zambia.
Fae had only been handed the reins on an interim basis hours before the Ivorians qualified for the knockout stages, with Jean-Louis Gasset being sacked on January 24 in the wake of the humiliating 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea.
The 2023 hosts caused something of an upset when they dumped defending champions Senegal out on penalties in the round of 16 and pulled off a great escape by beating Mali 2-1 in the quarter-finals after scoring a 90th-minute equaliser and a 122nd-minute winner.
Their victory over DR Congo in the semi-finals was less dramatic as Sebastien Haller's 65th-minute goal secured a narrow 1-0 win to set up a rematch with Nigeria, who triumphed 1-0 in their Group A clash at the same venue on January 18.
The Super Eagles haven't really set the continental showpiece alight with their displays, but they've been solid at the back and conceded just two goals en route to the final.
Jose Peseiro's side emerged from their group unbeaten and dispatched Cameroon 2-0 in the last 16 before running out 1-0 victors against Angola in the quarter-finals.
The three-time African champions required penalties to get past South Africa in the last four, having struggled to break down their opponents, who equalised from the spot in the 90th minute after Nigeria took the lead with a spot-kick of their own in the 67th minute.
Stanley Nwabali was the hero in the shootout after he denied Teboho Mokoena and Evidence Makgopa from 12 yards out to help set up a 4-2 win.
Peseiro felt the Super Eagles were worthy of a place in the final, although he praised Bafana Bafana for pushing them all the way in the first semi-final.
"The players deserve to be in the finals, it's a very good victory against a good team," the Portuguese tactician said.
"I said it earlier that South Africa have the best of organisation because they play together and they created more problems for us. It was very difficult to beat them.
"Nigeria deserved [to win] but they (Bafana) also deserved it. They did a fantastic job to fight until the final four. Just today on penalties our team were stronger."
Fae described Ivory Coast's run to the final akin to a "dream" given their uncertain situation a fortnight earlier.
"We are happy, we're really moved. It's like a dream when you go back two weeks to the defeat here against Equatorial Guinea," former Ivory Coast international Fae said.
"It was hard then to imagine that we might qualify for the final of our own AFCON."


Matches - 5
Nigeria wins - 2
Ivory Coast wins - 3
Draws - 0

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Published: 02/09/2024