Ivory Coast lifted its third Africa Cup of Nations trophy on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the finals.
William Troost-Ekong scored the first goal of the game with a great header in the 38’ minute to give Nigeria a 1-0 lead. However, Franck Kessie leveled the score in 62′ minute before Sebastien Haller scored what turned out to be a winning goal for Ivory Coast in 81’ minute.
While Kessie and Haller’s goals brought Ivory Coast the win, it was winger Simon Adingra who stole the show. Adingra first provided an assist for Kessie from the corner kick before setting up Haller for the winning goal with a great pass from the wing.
“It’s the power of the group and the mindset that put us through. We had some challenging moments, but we rescued ourselves, although it wasn’t easy. The mental fortitude saw us restore our chances and do what we achieved today,” Adingra said after the game.
Ivory Coast, who hosted the 2024 AFCON, had a remarkable journey in the tournament. They got a 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau in the opening match before suffering consecutive defeats to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea to finish third in Group A. They managed to get to the knockout round as one of the best third-place teams, but the country’s soccer federation still decided to fire manager Jean-Louis Gasset and replace him with assistant Emerse Faé, a former Ivory Coast international.
On their road to the finals, Ivory Coast was tested quite a few times. They needed a penalty shootout win over Senegal in the Round of 16 and extra time to get past Mali in the quarterfinals. However, the Elephants managed to overcome all the challenges and give their country a reason for a big celebration.