Hosts Côte d’Ivoire have emerged winners of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Cote d’Ivoire ended the dramatic tournament with an equally dramatic victory over Nigeriaon Sunday night in Abidjan.
The hosts came from behind to win 2-1 after trailing at half-time to a William Troost-Ekong’s powerful header which gave Nigeria the lead in the 38th minute.
The hosts however came back strongly in the second half.
In the packed stadium with over 58,000 Ivorian fans behind the Elephants, Franck Kessie levelled scores in the 62nd minute.
The Ivorians would have the last laugh as Sebastian Haller scored the winning goal in the 81st minute, with a clever toe poke after a dangerous cross into the Eagles’ vital area.
The result meant Cote d’Ivoire grabbed their third AFCON title.
This was after they won for the first time in 1992 and then in 2015.
NAN reports that the hosts had a very special campaign.
Having qualified for the knockout stages only as one of the best representatives of the third position.
They even qualified as the last best losers.
Defeats to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea led to the sacking of coach Jean-Louis Gasset.
Emerse Fae then led Coted’Ivoire to the trophy.
NAN also reports that Nigeria’s stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament award.
Troost-Ekong playing his last AFCON tourney had scored three goals in the tournament, including the beautiful header in the finals and stood as a “rock of Gibraltar” in the Nigerian defence.
Mamelodi Sundowns Goalkeeper and Captain of South Africa, Romwen Williams won the best goal keeper of the tournament.
The top goal scorer award went to Spanish-born Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea, who scored five goals three of which was a hat-trick against the champions, Cote d’Ivoire.
South Africa collected its bronze medals having won the third place match against DR Congo.
Earlier, the AFCON flag was transferred to Morocco which would host the tournament in 2025.