Super Eagles: 5 Times Nigeria Fell Short in the AFCON Final

Super Eagles: 5 Times Nigeria Fell Short in the AFCON Final

Isaac Darko
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
Nigeria logo
Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
South Africa
Victor Osimhen logo
V. Osimhen
Napoli logoFNigeria logo
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
  • Nigeria suffered a 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast in the 2023 AFCON final on Sunday
  • Troost-Ekong's first half goal was not enough as the Elephants staged a comeback
  • Sports Brief explores the five times Nigeria reached the AFCON final but failed to win

The Super Eagles of Nigeria boast a legacy in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) filled with both jubilant triumphs and bitter disappointments.

With three title victories to their name, they have also endured the anguish of defeat in the final on four occasions.

These instances of narrowly missing out on glory are integral components of the team's illustrious journey, reflecting their unwavering competitiveness and the delicate margins that typify football at its pinnacle.

AFCON 2023, Nigeria, Super Eagles, Ivory Coast, Victor Osimhen
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have gone to the AFCON final on five occasions and come away as runners-up. Photo by Franck Fife.
Source: Getty Images

Sports Brief delves into the five occasions when Nigeria advanced to the AFCON final only to emerge as runners-up, highlighting the highs and lows of their esteemed AFCON history.

AFCON final defeats for Nigeria

1. 1984 AFCON Final - Nigeria 1:3 Cameroon

In the 1984 final held in Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria found themselves pitted against Cameroon in a highly anticipated showdown, per Afrik Foot.

The Super Eagles, though determined, faced formidable opposition in the Indomitable Lions, who clinched their inaugural AFCON title.

Despite Nigeria's valiant efforts, Cameroon's superior strength and seasoned prowess proved decisive, cementing the beginning of a rivalry that would shape the landscape of African football for years to come.

2. 1988 AFCON Final - Nigeria 0:1 Cameroon

In a reminiscent clash, Nigeria once more faced off against Cameroon in the 1988 AFCON final held in Morocco. The highly anticipated match unfolded as a closely fought contest, with both sides displaying grit and determination on the field.

Ultimately, it was decided by a solitary goal that tilted the scale in favour of Cameroon, allowing them to retain their coveted title.

The outcome of this final not only solidified Cameroon's dominance but also further stoked the flames of rivalry between the two nations.

For Nigeria, it was yet another instance of coming agonizingly close to clinching the championship, underscoring the intensity and significance of their ongoing battle with Cameroon on the African football stage.

3. 1990 AFCON Final - Nigeria 0:1 Algeria

Against the backdrop of Algeria's fervent support, the stage was set for an electrifying showdown in the 1990 AFCON final held in Algeria, where the hosts clashed with Nigeria.

The atmosphere was charged with anticipation as both teams vied for the prestigious title. In a tightly contested battle, Algeria emerged victorious with a slender 1-0 win over the Super Eagles, much to the delight of their passionate home crowd.

For West African giants, the defeat proved to be a bitter pill to swallow, as they found themselves once again within touching distance of the continental crown, only to falter at the final hurdle.

4. 2000 AFCON Final - Nigeria 2:2 Cameroon (2-4 on penalties)

In the monumental 2000 AFCON tournament, Nigeria, serving as co-hosts alongside Ghana, ascended to the pinnacle once again, reaching the final stage where they encountered Cameroon for the third time in AFCON history.

The climactic match unfolded in a gripping fashion, culminating in a 2-2 deadlock after extra time, thrusting both teams into a tense penalty shootout.

Despite the fervour of playing on home soil, fate dealt a cruel blow as Cameroon triumphed in the shootout, clinching their third AFCON title in the process.

The agony of falling short in their own backyard intensified the heartbreak, leaving a bitter taste for the Super Eagles and their supporters alike.

5. 2023 AFCON Final - Nigeria 1:2 Cote D'Ivoire

In the climax of the 2023 AFCON tournament in Abidjan, Nigeria clashed with host nation Cote D'Ivoire in a riveting final showdown.

The Super Eagles seized the initiative in the first half, courtesy of a goal from their captain, William Troost-Ekong, per Myjoyonline.

However, the Ivorians mounted a spirited comeback in the second half, levelling the scoreline through Franck Kessie.

As tensions soared and the clock ticked away, Cote D'Ivoire secured the decisive goal in the dying moments of the game, with Sebastien Haller delivering the winning strike to claim victory in dramatic fashion.

Haller scores winner in AFCON final

Sports Brief also reported that Haller scored the winner as Ivory Coast came from a goal down to beat Nigeria in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Super Eagles took the lead before half-time through William Troost-Ekong, but Franck Kessie levelled after the break before the game was put to bed.

Isaac Darko photo
Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)