AFCON 2023 Final: The 5 Things We Learned As Ivory Coast Beat Nigeria To Win Title on Home Soil

AFCON 2023 Final: The 5 Things We Learned As Ivory Coast Beat Nigeria To Win Title on Home Soil

Godwin Nii Armah Tagoe
updated at February 12, 2024 at 9:01 AM
In this article:
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
Nigeria logo
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Victor Osimhen logo
V. Osimhen
Napoli logoFNigeria logo
Sébastien Haller logo
Borussia Dortmund logoFIvory Coast logo
Simon Adingra logo
Brighton Hove Albion logoFIvory Coast logo
E. Fae
  • Ivory Coast secured a 2-1 comeback win against Nigeria to win the 2023 AFCON
  • The Elephants, thus, become the first host nation to win the AFCON since Egypt
  • Sports Brief takes a look at the five things we learned from the final

Nigeria's quest for a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title was shattered as Ivory Coast staged a remarkable comeback to defeat the Super Eagles in the Grand Finale at the Stade Alassane Ouattara.

Midfielder Franck Kessie nullified William Troost-Ekong's early goal before Sebastien Haller secured the winning strike, assisted by Simon Adingra.

Ivory Coast, Nigeria, AFCON, final, home soil
Max Gradel hoists the coveted AFCON title alongside Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara while his national teammates cheer him on. Photo by Anadolu.
Source: Getty Images

Here are five key takeaways as Ivory Coast claimed the coveted title of African champions on their home turf.

No plan B for Peseiro

Jose Peseiro's heavy reliance on a defensive-first strategy inadvertently led to the Super Eagles often playing on the back foot, which impacted their ability to create scoring opportunities.

Throughout the tournament, Nigeria only scored more than one goal in a game once, against Cameroon in the round of 16.

The lack of goal-scoring prowess, despite boasting Victor Osimhen, the reigning best African Footballer, in their ranks, was always a potential issue for them.

Signs of this deficiency were evident in the semifinals, where they managed to secure a post-match penalty shootout victory after surviving a 1-1 draw after extra time.

However, in the Grand Finale, Ivory Coast's offensive strength proved too overwhelming for Nigeria to handle.

Once Haller scored the second goal, Peseiro's tactics appeared insufficient, as his team failed to recover after Kessie's equaliser.

Adingra and Haller factor

Two players who have made a significant impact since their integration into the Ivorian team are Simon Adingra and Sebastien Haller.

Adingra and Haller belatedly made their AFCON appearances due to hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively, per Transfermarkt.

While Haller initially struggled to find his goal-scoring form in the round of 16 and quarterfinal, the Borussia Dortmund striker came alive in the most crucial stages: the semifinal and the Grand Finale, scoring decisive goals in both matches.

Adingra, on the other hand, proved to be a constant threat to the opposition defence with his trickery and pace. It was no surprise when he played a pivotal role in creating the match-winning goal for the Elephants.

The 12th man: Supporters

At the Stade Alassane Ouattara, a sea of Ivorian supporters, clad in the unmistakable orange, gathered to passionately rally behind their team.

Their unbridled love and fervour echoed throughout the stadium, with millions more watching from home, joining in the collective support.

From cheering for every attempt made by Emerse Fae's men to intimidating their opponents with loud jeers, the Ivorian fans never faltered.

Even after conceding first, their voices remained unwavering as they cheered tirelessly until the Elephants found the equaliser. The eventual match-winning goal made fans euphoric, leaving them on cloud nine.

Emerse learned from group stage game

Facing the same team twice in a competition can present both advantages and disadvantages, but for interim Ivory Coast manager Emerse Fae, it proved to be an opportunity rather than a challenge.

During his side's pre-match press conference, the 40-year-old acknowledged being caught off guard by Jose Peseiro's tactical switch from a 4-4-2 to a 3-4-3 set-up.

However, Fae's adept tactical planning and strategy paved the way for his team's triumph, as the now three-time African champions asserted dominance over Nigeria in the final match from beginning to end.

Ivory Coast showed more desire

After nearly facing elimination in the group stage, Ivory Coast experienced a remarkable resurgence, displaying fearlessness and a newfound compactness while wearing their emotions on their sleeves.

Perhaps motivated by their humbling 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea, the Elephants staged an impressive comeback, overcoming a goal deficit to defeat Senegal in a post-match penalty shootout during the round of 16.

This momentum carried into the quarterfinals, where they secured another remarkable victory, prevailing 2-1 over Mali after extra time.

Their journey to the final continued with a hard-fought win against DR Congo.

In the Grand Finale, Fae's team elevated their desire and determination to new heights, ultimately claiming the prestigious prize on home soil.

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.