The Elephants of Ivory Coast defeated the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Sunday to lift their third Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.
TheNewsGuru.com (TNG) reports Sebastian Haller scored the winning goal to hand Ivory Coast the 2023 AFCON title.
A lackluster performance by Ola Aina saw Simon Adingra drove past the Nigerian defence like Lagos road without traffic to set up Haller for the winning goal.
Missing his penalty kick in the semi final clash against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa seemed to have destabilised the the right back.
Meanwhile, Stanley Nwabali, who had been outstanding all through the 2023 AFCON tournament was left helpless with Haller’s goal. He could only watch as the ball sailed into his net.
Nwabali generally lost his characteristic calmness and composure in the game. He picked an unnecessary yellow card, and stepped out to give Franck Kessie’s equalising header an easy ride into his net.
In the midfield, Alex Iwobi did little to nothing to produce creativity. He was mostly bossed out before he was replaced in the game.
The 2023 AFCON final saw Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro made certain changes to a solid team he fielded in the tournament before the final.
Peseiro played Samuel Chukwueze ahead of Moses Simon, who he later introduced into the game with little to no impact on the game.
Simon had in previous matches returned deep into defence to provide assistance for Aina, which Ademola Lookman had also replicated in his wing. But Chukwueze failed to provide this assistance to Aina in the final.
Changes made by the Super Eagles coach in the course of the game did nothing to change the rhythm of play as the Eagles were soaked in pressure by The Elephants in the second period.
Peseiro’s style of play had been based on tactical discipline. Defend well before making progress for goals. However, this final saw the Super Eagles made a lot of school boys mistakes.
The lackluster performance by Aina and Iwobi; Nwabali choosing the wrong day not to shine, and Peseiro not sticking to his winning team cost Nigeria its 4th AFCON title.
The resultant effect means that the Ivorians who managed to qualify from the group stage as best losers went on to win the 2023 AFCON trophy.
TNG reports the Super Eagles nevertheless collectively put on a good show of themselves, with William Troost-Ekong standing out and winning the Best Player of the Tournament award.
It was actually Troost-Ekong who put the Super Eagles in the lead after he rose up high in the air to nod home a corner kick in the 38th minute of the final.
However, Kessie put The Elephants level in the 62nd minute of play with a header similar to that of Troost-Ekong before Haller went on to score the winning goal for The Elephants.
Adingra, who provided the assist for Haller’s winning goal, went on to win the Best Young Player of the Tournament and Ronwen Williams of South Africa won the Best Goalkeeper award.
While the Best Coach award went to Côte d’Ivoire’s Emerse Fae, Emilio Nsue won the Golden Boot with 5 goals for Equatorial Guinea and Bafana Bafana won the Fair Play Team award.