AFCON 2023: Finidi George Explains Reason Why Nigeria Lost Final Against Ivory Coast

AFCON 2023: Finidi George Explains Reason Why Nigeria Lost Final Against Ivory Coast

Ero Samson
updated at February 22, 2024 at 1:17 PM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Nigeria logo
Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
South Africa
South Africa logo
South Africa
South Africa
Franck Kessié logo
F. Kessié
Al-Ahli SFC logoMIvory Coast logo
Sébastien Haller logo
Borussia Dortmund logoFIvory Coast logo
William Troost-Ekong logo
W. Troost-Ekong
PAOK Saloniki logoDNigeria logo
Ronwen Williams logo
R. Williams
Mamelodi Sundowns logoGSouth Africa logo
  • The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations concluded with a riveting showdown between Nigeria and Ivory Coast
  • A second-half resurgence courtesy of Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller secured a win for the Ivorians
  • Assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George explained why Nigeria lost the Cup of Nations final

The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) reached its pinnacle with an electrifying final clash between tournament hosts Ivory Coast and Nigeria’s Super Eagles.

The highly anticipated match, marking the second meeting of both teams in the tournament, exceeded the expectations of many.

AFCON, Nigeria, Super Eagles, CAF, Victor Osimhen, Finidi George.
Victor Osimhen argues with Evan Ndicka during the Africa Cup of Nations final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast. Image: MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

Nigeria’s vice-captain, William Troost-Ekong, opened the scoring in the 38th minute, setting the stage for a gripping showdown. However, a second-half resurgence led by midfielder, Franck Kessie, and forward, Sebastien Haller, secured a comeback victory for Emerse Fae’s side.

In the aftermath of the grand finale, assistant coach of the Nigerian national team, Finidi George, has provided insights into the reasons behind the Super Eagles' defeat.

Finidi on why Nigeria lost AFCON final

In an interview with media outlet, the 52-year-old tactician emphasised the reasons behind Nigeria's loss to the Ivorians in the final.

"It's not that we got it wrong; I felt we took three steps backwards after gaining the lead."
"The team retreated too deep, and as you know, playing against the host country, they were compelled to push forward, fueled by their home supporters. They gave it their all and managed to equalise."
"From that point on, if you were at the stadium, you could sense the momentum shifting in their favour. The fans, everyone, was behind them, and they pushed until they scored the second goal towards the end of the game."

The coach concluded by highlighting the positives his team took from the experience.

"It was a challenging battle for the team, and it's unfortunate, but we must learn from it and strive to improve."

The words of the former Nigerian winger echo that of defender Troost-Ekong. The POAK Thessaloniki star had hinted the team’s defensive setup was their greatest undoing on the night.

Despite the disappointment, Nigeria aims to capitalise on their AFCON success as they seek qualification for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Williams speaks on penalty shootout

Sports Brief in another report stated that South Africa's goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams, has disclosed his penalty tactics during the semi-final clash against Nigeria.

The Bafana Bafana star had thwarted four penalties in his side's quarter-final victory against Cape Verde.

However, the 32-year-old failed to save any when he faced the Super Eagles.

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Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).