Super Eagles of Nigeria on the threshold of history in another final against re-awakened Elephants of Cote D'Ivoire

Posted : 10 February 2024

History-seeking Super Eagles of Nigeria will have a date with the resurgent Elephants of Cote D'Ivoire in an epic clash on Sunday at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan.


The Super Eagles of Nigeria have only dropped one point since the start of the biennial tournament and boast the most disciplined backline, conceding just two goals so far.


Hosts, Cote d'Ivoire, completed their comeback journey by reaching the Finals of the AFCON, and they will now meet a familiar foe in Nigeria in what has been billed as a 'classic Final.'


To qualify for the final, the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire labored to a 1-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo DR) in front of a packed stadium in the economic hub of the host country, courtesy of a goal from Sebastien Haller. It was a remarkable comeback from a country that was, not so long ago, written off by pundits.


Nigeria, on the other hand, secured their spot in the final after a tense 4-2 penalty shootout victory over South Africa. Nigeria, chasing their 4th African title since 2013, will face a formidable challenge from Cote d'Ivoire, who are aiming to add a third continental title to their name.


The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Musa Gusau, believes that Super Eagles’ victory over the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the 34th Africa Cup of Nations Final on Sunday will once more confirm to Nigerians at home and abroad the ultra-potency of the much-talked-about Nigerian Spirit.


“We have always been talking about the Nigerian Spirit but many people simply pay lip service to it. The Nigerian Spirit is of high significance; it is the overpowering conviction that we can get things done with our will-power, hard work, diligence, and perseverance.


“Presently, we may be having challenges in certain sectors and facets of our national life, but the Nigerian Spirit can propel us to overcome those challenges and then reach for glory.


"That is what the Super Eagles have shown here. At the beginning of the tournament, very few people believed in the team. Now, six matches after, we are looking at the trophy, and I believe it will definitely be ours.”


The experienced administrator has called on Nigerians from all walks of life to pray for the Super Eagles’ triumph on Sunday.


“The triumph will certainly rejuvenate our collective passion to work for the greatness of our communities and the nation at large, and rekindle hope that all present challenges will soon become thorns that we have left behind us.”


The Super Eagles, who failed to win any of their two opening matches in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in November and lost 0-2 to Guinea in a friendly in Abu Dhabi five days before the opening match of the AFCON, are unbeaten at this championship and will start as favorites against an Ivorian side that has miraculously found itself at this end of the rope.


Sunday’s encounter will be Nigeria’s eighth Final appearance in the 67-year-old continental flagship competition, with only seven-time champions Egypt and four-time champions Ghana with more Final-day games. Egypt has been in the Final a total of 10 times, losing out only thrice. Ghana has been in the Final nine times, winning only four times.


The Head coach of the Nigerian national team, Jose Peseiro, is hoping to win the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 on the first attempt when they face Cote d’Ivoire.


The Portuguese international is preparing for his first AFCON final in his maiden appearance after a lot of skepticism ahead of the start of the competition.


After a rather shaky start, the Super Eagles are now well on course to lifting a fourth continental title, with the Portuguese at the helm.


Speaking ahead of the much-anticipated final, Peseiro said playing a TotalEnergies CAF AFCON final was important and that he would like to win it on his first attempt.


“Playing a final is always important. This is my first AFCON. Some were saying it’s been special, and I can attest to that. The emotions in Africa are very special. All of this, in my opinion, is a great way to learn, and I would live to win it with the Nigerian team tomorrow,” said the coach.


“I learned tremendously here. There is joy when you win but difficult when you lose, so it is very important to find a balance. We have a great squad of players that really want to win this for Nigeria. Some are newcomers to the squad but have played in other competitions. Football brings a lot of emotion, more than any sport, and this is important for Nigeria,” he added.


On the Super Eagles skipper, Ahmed Musa, who has yet to kick a ball in the tournament, Peseiro insisted that he was a valued player off the pitch.


“Ahmed is much more than a player. He helps us a lot. He advises and informs me about many things. Up to now, he has done so many things. He has won the AFCON. He is the captain, and I want to win the AFCON tomorrow so I can see Ahmed lift this cup,” concluded Peseiro.


AFCON most appearances by countries


Egypt: 10 (Won in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 & 2010; Lost in 1962, 2017 & 2021)


Ghana: 9 (Won in 1963, 1965, 1978 & 1982; Lost in 1968, 1970, 1992, 2010 & 2015)


Cameroon: 7 (Won in 1984, 1988, 2000, 2002 & 2017; Lost in 1986 & 2008)


Nigeria: 7* (Won in 1980, 1994 & 2013; Lost in 1984, 1988, 1990 & 2000). Playing 8th Final on Sunday. 


Cote d’Ivoire: 4* (Won in 1992 & 2015; Lost in 2006 & 2012). Playing 5th Final on Sunday. 


Algeria: 3 (Won in 1990 & 2019; Lost in 1980)


Zambia: 3 (Won in 2012; Lost in 1974 & 1994)


Tunisia: 3 (Won in 2004; Lost in 1965 & 1996)


Senegal: 3 (Won in 2021; Lost in 2002 & 2019)

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