The Super Eagles of Nigeria lost 2-1 to hosts Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the 2023 AFCON played on Sunday in Abidjan, www.aclsports.com reports.
The Eagles went in front through William Troost-Ekong’s header before a second half rally saw the hosts claim victory after goals from Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller.
It was expected to be a close affair in the final of the 34th edition of the tourney, and so it was, as Nigeria decided to cede ball possession to the hosts in front of a packed Stade Alassane Ouattara.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, who had a fine tournament, was called into action a couple of times before the Eagles went in front against the run of play. A corner from Ademola Lookman was not dealt with by the Ivorian defence, allowing the Ekong to put Jose Peseiro’s side ahead. A lead Nigeria managed to keep until the break.
After the restart, it was one way-traffic as the hosts switched things up and were deservedly level just after the hour mark. Midfielder Franck Kessie left unmarked in the Nigerian box, headed home a corner delivery from Simon Adingra.
The hosts kept going from strength to strength there and with a few minutes left to play, Haller flicked home a cross from Adingra to complete the turnaround and defeat the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Super Eagles huffed and puffed late on, but it was not enough as Cote d’Ivoire held on to win their third AFCON title and their first since 2015.
Meanwhile, individual awards were given at the end of the final and it went as thus; Fair Play Team of the tournament (South Africa), Best Goalkeeper (Ronwen Williams – South Africa), Golden Boot Winner – (Emilio Nsue – Equatorial Guinea), and Man of the competition – (William Troost-Ekong – Nigeria).