By: Nana Kwame Bediako
Host Nation Côte d’Ivoire made it an incredible third Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) triumph as they defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria 2-1 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday, February 11, 2024, to become the first country to host and win the Africa Cup of Nations since Egypt in 2006.
Nigeria went into the final with a well-composed shape as they neutralised all spaces to prevent Côte d’Ivoire from creating crucial chances in their box. The Super Eagles mastered their defensive craft well, causing frustration on the side of the Ivorians.
Côte d’Ivoire patiently built confidence by taking the game to Nigeria, but they unfortunately failed to cause further upset in the eighteen-yard box of the Nigerians. Nigeria took a commanding step to take the lead with a superb header from their skipper, William Troost-Ekong, which pumped some life into the crowd of the Super Eagles.
After going down in the 38th minute, the Elephants were forced to wake up from their sleep as their hope of winning a third AFCON trophy stood on the verge of collapsing as Nigeria gathered momentum to build on their lead.
The second half saw a different mentality from the Ivorian team, as they started the half with much urgency and determination to cancel out the lead of the Super Eagles. Côte d’Ivoire, with their consistent pressure, eventually equalised with a well-calculated header from Franck Kessié in the 62nd minute.
Côte d’Ivoire, after equalising, managed to get Nigeria out of their box. Nigeria crawled back into the game fighting to regain their lead, but they weren’t able to capitalise on that as Côte d’Iviore took advantage of their chances with a well-drilled play from youngster Simon Adingra, setting up Sébastien Haller for their second goal to put the score at 2-1.