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AFCON Final: Four Reasons Why Nigeria Lost in the Final Against Host Nation, Against Ivory Coast
- The Africa Cup of Nations concluded with a thrilling final at the Stade Alassane Ouattara
- The Super Eagles of Nigeria fell to defeat against resurgent tournament host, Ivory Coast
- Sports Brief highlights four key factors from the last round for the Nigerian national team
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) reached its conclusion with a thrilling showdown between the host nation, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
The highly anticipated finale of the continental competition lived up to its billing, keeping fans on the edge of their seats from the first whistle until the last.
However, despite Nigeria being heavy the favourites against an Elephants side that seemed to rely on miracles, Jose Peseiro’s team suffered a shock defeat.
Goals from midfielder, Franck Kessie, and forward, Sebastien Haller, proved decisive in overturning Nigeria’s lead and securing the AFCON title for the Ivorians.
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The surprising result has evoked strong emotions among fans who had high expectations for the Super Eagles team, with many voicing disappointment.
In the aftermath of this enthralling match, Sports Brief has pinpointed four crucial factors that played a significant role in Nigeria's defeat in the final.
Reasons for Nigeria's AFCON final defeat
Coach Peseiro’s tactical change
The 63-year-old coach made two changes to the team that triumphed over South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the semi-finals, bringing in Zaidu Sanusi and Samuel Chukwueze for Bright-Osayi Samuel and Moses Simon.
While these adjustments seemed routine to many, some fans and analysts noted these changes could have disrupted the Super Eagles' momentum. In the semi-finals, both Simon and Bright-Osayi had been exceptional, significantly contributing to Nigeria's advancement to the final.
However, the Portuguese coach acknowledged his error when the Ivorians took the lead and wasted no time substituting both players.
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Nigeria’s defensive vulnerabilities
The defensive vulnerabilities of the Super Eagles, exposed in the semi-finals against Bafana Bafana, resurfaced once more against the Ivorian team.
In just the first 45 minutes of the match, Nigeria conceded nine shots. They failed to rectify this in the second half, as the Ivorians hit another nine.
This seemingly lacklustre defending, particularly notable with a trophy on the line, would eventually lead to Nigeria conceding two goals in the final.
Lack of intensity
Another glaring factor for the Nigerian team that evening was the apparent lack of intensity and effective pressing from the Super Eagles.
The 5-4-1 formation utilised by Peseiro’s team has typically been defined by its impressive pressing tactics. However, against the Ivorians, the Super Eagles failed to execute that strategy. This lapse allowed the hosts to dominate possession and orchestrate their remarkable comeback victory.
Simon Adingra’s immense contribution
As fans and stakeholders of the Super Eagles delve into introspection to analyse the reasons behind their defeat against the Ivorians, it's imperative to highlight the significant impact of forward, Simon Adingra, on his team's victory.
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The Brighton and Hove Albion winger bossed Nigeria’s Ola Aina on the left flank and subsequently provided the two assists to both goals that would seal victory for Emerse Fae’s team.
Ivorian journalist on AFCON victory
Sports Brief also previously reported on Ivorian journalist, Yao Diby Mesmer, identifying reasons behind Ivory Coast's success at AFCON 2023.
The West African country and host nation had rebounded from their group-stage disappointment to secure victory in the final against Nigeria.
Ivory Coast had dismissed manager, Jean-Louis Gasset, following their record loss against Equatorial Guinea, with Emerse Fae taking over.