Monday, 12 February 2024 04:48

Super Eagles fail to lift AFCON cup, lose to Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria have lost 2-1 to the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the final of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The Eagles surrendered a goal lead to the Ivorians at the Olympic stadium, Ebimpe, Abidjan, on Sunday.

Nigeria conceded only two goals en route to the final but let in just as many goals against a rejuvenated Cote d’Ivoire side.

The Elephants were a different team from the earlier side that lost to the Eagles in the group stage and needed to wait till the final match of the group stage to qualify for the second round.

Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked as the team’s head coach, and Emerse Fae turned the country’s fortune around as an interim coach.

The period of despair had hardened the team’s belief in comebacks, and they did just that against Nigeria in the final match.

The Eagles took the lead in the first half through a towering header from William Troost-Ekong.

The Ivorians then equalised through a header of their own as Franck Kessie found himself free on the far side of the post.

Then Sebastien Haller completed the comeback for the host country, stabbing home a cross from Simon Adingra.

For most of the game, the Eagles struggled with coherence and creation of chances. The team had only one shot on target throughout the game.

The Elephants had clearer intentions to win the game, and they became the champions of Africa for the third time in their history.

PLAYER RATINGS

Stanley Bobo Nwabali, GK (3/5): He was calm as always, but the fire shone through in his face-off with the Ivorians. His first-half save was the springboard for the opener. He could have done a little about both goals.

Zaidu Sanusi, DW (2/5): He lived dangerously and was at fault for Ivory Coast’s opener. A poor night.

Olaoluwa Aina, DW (2/5): He left wide gaps for Cote d’Ivoire to explore. An uncharacteristically poor night.

Calvin Bassey, DC (2.5/5): A case of two halves. Colossal in the first half, average and mistake-laden in the second half.

William Troost Ekong (C), DC (3/5): He scored the opener but could not prevent the Ivoirians from scoring twice.

Semi Ajayi, DC (3/5): Average night for the languid defender. He could not stop Haller from scoring the winner.

Frank Onyeka, DM (2.5/5): He was indefatigable but swarmed by the opponents, who had a packed midfield and dragged him everywhere.

Alex Iwobi, MC (2/5): He played well in the first half but gassed out after the interval.

Samuel Chukwueze, WF (1/5): Poor. Missing in action.

Ademola Lookman, WF (2/5): An average display, swarmed by the Ivorians once he touched the ball.

Victor Osimhen, ST (3/5): A Battering ram as usual but was starved of any service while the Ivorian defence did not allow him a quarter.

Substitutes
Alhassan Yusuf, MC (N/A): No impact

Moses Simon, WF (1/5): He came on early in the second half but had to defend more than he tried to attack.

Kelechi Iheanacho, MC (N/A): Could not influence the game.

Joe Aribo, MC (N/A): No impact.

Terrem Moffi, ST (N/A): Not enough time for impact.

 

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