AFCON 2023: Why Ivory Coast Lost to Nigeria in Group A Top Liner, Ivorian Journalist Explains

AFCON 2023: Why Ivory Coast Lost to Nigeria in Group A Top Liner, Ivorian Journalist Explains

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at January 19, 2024 at 9:02 PM
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  • Nigeria stunned Ivory Coast to pick all three points against the AFCON hosts
  • The result leaves the Elephants in third position behind Eq. Guinea and Nigeria
  • But how did they stumble to defeat in a game of such importance? Here's why

Abidjan- Côte d’Ivoire. In a surprising turn of events, three-time African champions Nigeria secured an impressive victory against the hosts Ivory Coast in the ongoing 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.

William Troost-Ekong's successful strike from the penalty spot propelled the Super Eagles to claim all three points and earn bragging rights in this West African clash in Bimpe.

William Troost-Ekong, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, AFCON 2023
William Troost-Ekong fired home from 12 yards to hand Nigeria a solitary win against Ivory Coast. Photo by MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Ivory Coast's unexpected loss to Nigeria followed their routine win against Guinea-Bissau in the tournament's opening match, while their opponents rectified their previous disappointing draw with Equatorial Guinea, per Africa News.

What Ivory Coast needs to qualify for knockout stage

The outcome now places all four countries in Group A in contention for qualifying for the knockout phase of the continental showpiece, each with varying possibilities.

Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria need just a point from their final group game, whereas Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau must secure a victory at all costs to stand a chance of advancing to the last 16 stage, according to the BBC.

The potential failure of the Elephants to progress past the group stages would be catastrophic, impacting attendance as the tournament unfolds.

Why Ivory Coast lost to Nigeria

Journalist Clément Yetonhegnon, affiliated with La 3 channel in Abidjan, has offered insights into the reasons behind the Elephants' stumble to defeat.

"We were waiting for the Elephants' game against Nigeria to see if the Ivory Coast was really ready. But they showed signs of weakness," he told Sports Brief.
"A slowness in ball circulation, facing a low and well-organized block from Nigeria which has densified its midfield and played on the speed of its 3 attackers."
Explaining the deficiencies on the side, he added: "A middle without a real 6, without a creator, also an attack reinvented by Gasset, which did not work because it was not complementary.
"By putting Christian Kouame as a winger, he made a mistake in his choices because he is not a real winger."
Clément emphatically stated that: "Gasset’s team cannot beat an African top 5."

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Super Eagles 'frustrate' Ivorian legend Drogba

Sports Brief also reported that Didier Drogba, who had earlier encountered his protégé and Super Eagles star striker Victor Osimhen, was among the over 45,000 spectators in attendance to witness his home team suffer a defeat.

Although a William Troost-Ekong penalty in the second half ultimately secured a victory for the Super Eagles, Drogba couldn't hide his frustration as he paced on the sidelines, witnessing his country's struggle.

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe photo
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe is a Ligue 1, Bundesliga, and La Liga editor with five-year experience. He previously worked with Sports Corna and 360SportsGH.