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Ivory Coast Triumphs Over Nigeria 2-1 to Secure Africa Cup of Nations


By Grace Chigbu

ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST — The host nation, Ivory Coast, erupted into jubilation as Sébastien Haller’s late goal secured a stunning 2-1 victory over Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday.

Haller’s decisive strike in the 81st minute completed a remarkable comeback for the Elephants after Franck Kessié had earlier leveled the score in the 62nd minute. The triumph marked Ivory Coast’s third title in the tournament’s history, adding to their previous victories in 1992 and 2015.

Haller’s goal not only sealed the championship but also served as a personal triumph for the player, who had battled back from injury and cancer treatment just over a year ago.

Nigeria, led by captain William Troost-Ekong, had taken the lead in the first half against the run of play with a header from a corner in the 38th minute. However, they were unable to maintain their advantage as Ivory Coast dominated proceedings, especially in the second half.

This victory was particularly sweet for Ivory Coast, considering their tumultuous journey throughout the tournament. Facing elimination at one stage, the team rallied under interim coach Emerse Faé, staging dramatic comebacks against formidable opponents in the knockout stages.

The pressure of the final seemed to overwhelm Nigeria, whose coach, José Peseiro, acknowledged Ivory Coast’s superior performance on the day. Despite their impressive defensive record leading up to the final, Nigeria conceded as many goals in this match as they had in all their previous games combined.

The atmosphere at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium was electric as Kessié’s equalizer sparked wild celebrations among the home fans. Haller’s winning goal ignited scenes of joy and festivities across Abidjan and the entire nation.

In the lead-up to the final, excitement had been palpable across Ivory Coast, with streets transformed into viewing areas and fan zones bustling with activity. Traffic congestion around the stadium attested to the immense anticipation for the historic clash.

However, logistical challenges marred the buildup to the match, with the Nigeria team bus encountering difficulties navigating through the gridlocked streets. Despite these obstacles, fans from both sides converged on the stadium, eager to witness the culmination of a thrilling tournament.

As the final whistle blew and Ivory Coast secured victory, the nation erupted into celebrations that are sure to reverberate for days to come. The triumph not only crowns Ivory Coast as champions of Africa but also serves as a testament to the resilience and spirit of the team and its supporters.

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