Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Best AFCON Finals of All Time Ahead of 2023 Showpiece

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Best AFCON Finals of All Time Ahead of 2023 Showpiece

Martin Moses
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
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  • Nigeria will play Ivory Coast in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations
  • The competition has seen a couple of classics in its finals over the years
  • Sports Brief sampled five such finals ahead of the 2023 Abidjan clash

Sébastien Haller scored the all-decisive goal in the Ivory Coast game vs DR Congo to send his nation through to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final.

The Elephants, who have practically survived every obstacle thrown their way, will play three-time champions, Nigeria, at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on February 11.

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast, AFCON 2023 final, best AFCON finals of all time
Ivory Coast players celebrate Sebastien Haller's goal against DR Congo. Photo by Franck Fife.
Source: Getty Images

A final of any competition is usually a pensive encounter with only 90 minutes separating the two teams from either glory or gloom.

Most memorable AFCON finals of all time

AFCON has in the past provided thrillers in the finals, an occurrence neutrals will be hoping will continue on Sunday to see off the competition.

We take a look at some of the finals in yesteryears that lived up to their expectations.

2021: Senegal vs Egypt

This fixture had been marked as a clash between two Liverpool stars - Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. Both had reached the AFCON final before but were on the losing side as they sought to win the first silverware in national colours.

Mane had an opportunity to put the Teranga Lions in front in the seventh minute but saw his penalty saved by Abou Gabal. He later made amends by scoring the final spot-kick after Edouard Mendy had saved Mohanad Lasheen’s effort.

2017: Egypt vs Cameroon

Salah’s first AFCON final started perfectly, with the Reds winger setting up Mohamed Elneny to open the scoring in the 22nd minute.

Cameroon head coach at the time, Hugo Broos, brought on Vincent Aboubakar at half-time, with the Indomitable Lions finding an equalizer in the 59th minute via Nicolas Nkolou.

With less than three minutes to go, Aboubakar received a long ball from Sebastien Sein and chested it down before flicking it over the on-rushing defender. The striker then unleashed a shot to win a fifth title for the Indomitable Lions.

2012: Zambia vs Ivory Coast

An unfancied Chipolopolo had managed to defy the odds to reach the final against a Didier Drogba-led Ivory Coast. But that was not the whole story.

Just 19 years earlier, in Libreville, a few kilometres from where the final was being played, the Zambian national team had perished in an aeroplane crash.

Under Herve Renard, they frustrated the Elephants, with the game ending in a goalless draw. More drama followed in shoot-outs, with each team taking eight penalties. Kolo Toure and Gervinho missed their final two for Ivory Coast, leaving Stopilla Sunzu to make history for Zambia.

2000: Nigeria vs Cameroon

Nigeria suffered heartbreak in front of their home fans in Lagos, but they did not go down without a fight.

Samuel Eto’o and Patrick Mboma scored a goal apiece in the first half to put the Indomitable Lions in the driving seat. Raphael Chukwu pulled one back for the Super Eagles before the break. Jay-Jay Okocha then came alive in the second half, scoring a long-range effort to restore parity.

Nwankwo Kanu and Victor Ikpeba missed their penalties in the shoot-outs to hand Cameroon the title.

1974: Zaire vs Zambia

The beauty here was that penalties were yet to be introduced, and thus, any ties in final games had to be replayed.

Zaire (now DR Congo) and Zambia reached the final of the eight-team tournament in Egypt. Pierre Mulamba looked to have secured the title for Zaire with his second goal in the 117th minute, only for Sinyangwe to equalise in stoppage time to force the replay.

Mulamba was once again the go-to guy for Zaire two days later, scoring another brace to win the title for his country.

Can Nigeria vs Ivory Coast deliver another classic?

Best player of AFCON 2023

Sports Brief has also reported on the leading candidates for the Best Player of the Tournament at AFCON 2023.

The award is more often than not given to the player whose team has won the trophy, but there have been cases of other players, including fourth-place finishers, being considered.

William Troost-Ekong leads the list, with the Nigerian captain in fantastic form for the Super Eagles.

Authors
Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)