FRANCE 24 delegate to Ivory Coast – The Ivorian miracle continued in the final of the 2024 African Cup of Nations, and the “Elephants” won on Sunday evening at home and in front of their fans in Abidjan over the Nigerian “Eagles” with a score of 2-1, to win the continental title for the third time in its history after 1992 and 2015. After falling behind to Ekong's goal in the 38th minute, Ivory Coast was able to equalize in the 62nd minute through Kessé before Haller scored the winning goal in the 81st minute.
Ivory Coast did it, overturning its deficit against Nigeria to win the final 2-1 in the final African Cup of Nations Football In Abidjan, it also won a third star that lit up the country's sky immediately after the Mauritanian referee, Dahan Bede, announced the end of the match.
I expected Cote d'Ivoire A people and a government with an iron power to ensure that its team wins in front of its eager fans, especially since the orange squad “came back from the dead,” as its coach said on several occasions during the competition, and the Ivorians impatiently awaited the date of the confrontation against… Nigeria Although they feared the awakening of Victor Osimhen and his in-form teammates throughout the tournament.
The “Elephants” were certain that they would become the first host country to win the title since Egypt in 2006 (and the “Pharaohs” won over Ivory Coast in particular at that time). It became the first team to lose by four goals (in the group stage) and reach the final since Nigeria in 1990 in Algeria.
Data before the duel indicated that the “Excellent Eagles” were looking forward to becoming the second country to win the title four times after Ghana (note that Egypt leads the standings with seven cups, followed by Cameroon with five titles), otherwise Ivory Coast will follow them with three.
Coach Emers Faye's roster was completed with the return of his four players suspended in the previous knockout stages, namely defenders Odilon Kosonou and Serge Aurier, and strikers Oumar Diakite and Christian Kouame. The starting lineup (return) included Orie and Kosono, while the attacking line was formed by the trio Gradel-Haller-Adingra, and in the middle was Franck Kessie (Al-Ahly Saudi Arabia) and Sekou Fofana (Al-Nassr Saudi Arabia), along with Michael Seri (Hull FC, England).
For its part, Nigeria did not complain about absences or injuries, and relied on the solidity of its defense and its goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, who conceded two goals in six matches (compared to seven for the Ivory Coast goal). Coach Jose Peseiro announced the intention of attacking, with Osimhen, Lookman and Chukwueze (instead of Simon) entering the attack, followed by English Fulham club duo Iwobi and Calvin, as well as Onyeka, the English Brentford midfielder.
After a joyful closing ceremony, the crowd, which numbered about 60,000 people, was enthusiastic, led by Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara – who arrived at the stadium two hours before the start of the match, and got out of his car near the touchline with his wife to greet his compatriots. They gave him a standing ovation as well – and FIFA President Gianni Infantino. And his counterpart in the Confederation of African Football, Patrice Motsepe, the players went through warm-up movements that lasted 30 minutes and returned to the locker rooms before returning to the field again for the final confrontation.
The stadium, located in the northern suburb of the city of Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, shook before the Mauritanian referee, Dahan, gave the whistle, after the star Didier Drogba entered with the cup and placed it in front of everyone. Along with him were some other continental stars, such as the Nigerian Kano, the Egyptian Hossam Hassan, and the Tunisian. Riad Bouazizi.
The green and orange teams entered side by side, and the confrontation began in a noisy atmosphere, under chants and chants. In the face of the Nigerian offensive threat, Ivory Coast took control from the start and did not want to repeat the scenario of the group stage match when it lost to its competitor 0-1, so it attacked and threatened goalkeeper Noubali twice in the first five minutes through Haller. She took control of the match amid the encouragement of her fans.
Nigeria failed to build the game, and had no choice but to pass long balls towards the isolated Osimhen in the middle of the “Elephants” defence. She made some weak attempts, but her opponent continued to create opportunities, such as Gradel's scissor in the twentieth minute, which passed near the goalkeeper's right post. But the result remained the same, tied (0-0), and this can be read as a positive point for the green team, given the ground staff and the audience, and given the control the Ivorians imposed on them.
In the 28th minute, the Mauritanian referee was forced to show the yellow card to Peseiro, who exaggerated the protests on the touchline against the backdrop of skirmishes between Osimhen and Ivory Coast defenders.
Nigeria escaped the first goal in the 34th minute when Adingra penetrated the defense from the right side, advanced in front of Nuwabali and shot, and his kick turned into a corner kick. But, surprisingly, it was able to score against Yahya Fofana in the 38th minute with a header from its captain, Troost Ekong, who placed it in the right corner of the goal after a corner kick taken by Lookman, which caused confusion within the defence.
This was a severe blow to the team of the host country of the 2024 African Cup, which fell under shock and was unable to find solutions in the face of the steadfastness of the “Excellent Eagles” and their ability to turn the course of the matches. The first half ended with Nigeria leading 1-0.
The hosts started the second stage strongly, and they got a dangerous free kick in the 48th minute, but the Nigerian defense was able to remove the danger, but the ball returned again in front of Nuwabali’s goal, and Gradel shot strongly and the defense blocked it. The stadium shook in the 51st minute when Gradel fell to the ground after a jostling with Zaidou, and the Ivorians asked referee Dahane to hand over a penalty kick, but the latter ordered the game to continue.
The rivalry between the two teams intensified and they exchanged physical aggression, while the Nigerians left the ball to the Ivorians to focus on counterattacks, especially with Simon replacing Chukwueze in the 55th minute. But they retreated a lot and also left gaps in front of their defense, so Kesé was able to equalize in the 62nd minute with a powerful header following a pass from Adingra. .
The Eagles responded with a header from Ekong, but it ended above the goal. Singo and Diakite (the scorer of the winning goal against Mali) entered the ranks of the “Elephants” in place of Ouret and Gradel. Haller almost scored the second goal in the 75th minute with a scissor kick that confirmed the renewed gaps in Nigeria's defense, and it went outside the goal.
The match was in the grip of Ivory Coast, and its intensity increased over the official time of the fiery duel, while the “Eagles” seemed on the verge of collapse and exaggerated in random passes, which upset Osimhen, who remained alone and isolated in the attacking line. Peseiro made two changes, with Kelechi and Moussa replacing Ayoubi and Lookman, but the Alassane Ouattara Stadium shook again due to Haller’s goal in the 81st minute, giving the lead to the “Elephants” team and putting his team on the path to coronation.
Although the referee counted seven minutes in stoppage time, Nigeria was unable to equalize, confirming its inability to live up to its aspirations. The team that strived hard to win the title won, bringing joy to the hearts of the Ivorians, so that the 34th edition of the African Cup of Nations ended with comprehensive success.