AFCON 2023: Kessie Explains How Ivory Coast Upset Senegal and Qualified for Quarter Finals

AFCON 2023: Kessie Explains How Ivory Coast Upset Senegal and Qualified for Quarter Finals

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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  • Franck Kessie has explained how 2023 AFCON hosts, Ivory Coast stunned favourites, Senegal
  • Kessie scored the winning penalty as Les Elephants beat the defending champions on penalties
  • This is the seventh straight edition in which the defending champions have not reached the last 8

Franck Kessie has revealed the strategy behind Ivory Coast's surprising victory over defending champions and overwhelming favourites for AFCON 2023, Senegal.

Despite starting the Round of 16 clash on the bench, he played a crucial role after being subbed on, contributing to the host nation's quest to keep their title campaign alive.

Ivory Coast, Senegal, AFCON 2023, Franck Kessie
Ivory Coast's Jean-Philippe Krasso attempts to evade a tackle from two Senegalese players during their AFCON clash. Photo by MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Following a demoralising four-nil defeat in their last group game, Les Elephants were on the verge of an embarrassing group-stage exit.

However, favourable results in other matches allowed them to qualify as one of the four best-placed third teams, as SNL24 reported.

Facing Senegal, the standout team from the group stages, Ivory Coast displayed passion, resilience, and belief, rallying from a goal down to force the game into extra time with Kessie's 86th-minute penalty.

In the additional 30 minutes of the Round of 16 encounter, Les Elephants and the Teranga Lions remained evenly matched, leading to the encounter needing to be decided by a post-match penalty shootout.

Kessie, a 27-year-old former Barcelona midfielder, stepped up once again and expertly converted his attempt from the penalty spot as Ivory Coast triumphed over Senegal to send the country into sheer delirium.

Reflecting on the remarkable comeback amid managerial uncertainties, Kessie stated the team had mentally prepared themselves, realising they had nothing to lose against a formidable foe.

"We were beaten in front of our country, in the stadium named after the President. That's where we felt this humiliation.
"After Morocco's match, we had nothing more to lose! As they say: 'a ghost can't be afraid'," he told BeinSports as quoted by Owuraku Ampofo.

Senegal falls to AFCON's 'defending champion curse'

Sports Brief also previously highlighted Senegal's inability to break the AFCON curse by becoming yet another defending champion to fall short of the quarter-finals.

Since Egypt in 2010, no African champion has managed to advance past the Round of 16 in the subsequent tournament - a trend the Teranga Lions aimed to alter.

During a post-match shootout, Senegal's Moussa Niakhate hit the post, while Ivory Coast converted all their penalties, resulting in the defending champions falling yet again.

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.