AFCON 2023: Super Eagles’ Journey To The Final
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By Amaechi Agbo
The final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, the 34tj edition, will climax today in Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan.
With kick-off schedule for 9pm Nigeria time, the final, predictably, pitched two giants in the game together, Nigeria three-time winners with latest in 2013 and Ivory Coast, two-champions with 2015 edition.
Following a jittery start to their campaign, the Super Eagles of Nigeria soared into the final in impressive fashion to send out a strong signal of being title contenders.
The three-time champions face hosts Ivory Coast in Bouake on Sunday at 20h00 in what promises to be an action packed encounter.
The journey to the final was not smooth just as the starting was shaky. How, this is how the 2019 bronze winners, Nigeria manouvered their way to the final.
Group A – Finished Second place
Drawn in a tough Group A consisting of tournament hosts, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
The Super Eagles finished second in their group after worrying 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea saw them bounce back against the Elephants with a narrow 1-0 win and a similar scoreline against Guinea-Bissau which earned them a place in the round of 16.
Round of 16 (Nigeria 2-0 Cameroon)
The round of 16 saw Nigeria getting into rhythm and hitting full speed. An interesting tie between them and Cameroon saw the red-hot Ademola Lookman finding the back of the net twice for his side to send the Indomitable Lions crashing out of the competition.
Quarter-Finals (Nigeria 1-0 Angola)
The quarter finals were not so much of a high scoring match for the Super Eagles as they narrowly edged a resilient Angola 1-0 in Abidjan. While they may not have found the back of the net more than once, the three-time champions demonstrated true champions’ mentality with their impressive game management ability.
Semi-Final ( Nigeria 4-2 South Africa ) on penalties.
Nigeria continued their dominance over South Africa by defeating them on penalties to progress to the finals.
With 120 minutes ending 1-1, Nigeria luckily won on penalties to repeat what happened in 2000 when they knocked out South Africa in the semi-finals also.
Final ( Nigeria vs Ivory Coast)
An epic encounter awaits in the final, a repeat of the second Group A game which went in favor of Nigeria thanks to a William Troost – Ekong’s penalty.
For Cotê d’Ivoire, it’s revenge time.