The Elephants of Ivory Coast rose to the occasion in the final game of the AFCON2023 competition in Abidjan. Playing in front of their home fans, the Ivorians came from a goal down to beat Nigeria 2:1 in what may be termed the best game of the tournament. Nigeria had scored first in the first half through a wonderful header from the team captain, Troost Ekong. The two goals of the Ivorians came in the second half of play to give them victory, the gold medal, and the AFCON2023 trophy.
Nigeria could not capitalise on their one goal lead advantage scored in the 38th minute of play and technically lost the midfield, which the Ivorians controlled and used to their advantage. They equally had more ball possession, 62.4%, with 8 shots on goal as against Nigeria’s one shot on goal. In the 62nd minute, Franck Kessie headed in the first goal for Ivory Coast through a cross from Simon Adingra. They continued to pile pressure on Nigeria, and the defense caved in the 81st minute as Sebastien Haller tapped in a cross from Simon Adingra to give the Ivorians the second and winning goal.
Most pundits had tipped Nigeria to lift the trophy considering the checkered play of the Ivorians in the group stages. They were the last team to be squeezed into the knockout stages, having ended their group games with just three points secured from their first game. They lost their two other games only to be sent to the knockout stages as one of the best losers. After that, the team never looked back as they picked up the pieces, made changes, and became a force in the competition. And today, they beat the high-flying Super Eagles of Nigeria at the Stade Alassane Outtara Stadium in Abidjan, to lift the African Cup of Nations Competition AFCON2023, trophy.
The triumph makes it the third AFCON trophy that Ivory Coast is lifting, placing them on par with Nigeria on the number of AFCON trophies won and their first trophy since 2025. Ghana has won the trophy four times, Cameroon five times, and Egypt has won it the most times with seven trophies to date. Today’s loss is the fifth time that Nigeria has reached the AFCON finals and lost. For the Elephants of Ivory Coast, it was a well-deserved victory, as they played better, were more determined and trophy-hungry and controlled the game from beginning to end. It was also revenge for them against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who beat them by a lone goal in the group game.