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Africa Cup of Nations | Final
Feb 11, 2024 at 8pm UK
Teslim Balogun Stadium
IC

Nigeria
1 - 2
Ivory Coast

Troost-Ekong (38')
Yusuf (28'), Nwabali (53'), Aina (90')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Kessie (62'), Haller (81')
Aurier (54'), Fofana (87'), N'Dicka (90+7')

AFCON 2023: How Nigeria and Ivory Coast have fared in previous AFCON finals

:Headline: AFCON 2023: How Nigeria and Ivory Coast have fared in previous AFCON finals:
Ahead of Sunday's Africa Nations Cup final, Sports Mole looks back on Nigeria and Ivory Coast's previous appearances in the AFCON decider.
Sports Mole

Bringing a drama-packed tournament to its conclusion, Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final will see two continental giants go toe to toe at Stade Olympique d'Ebimpe.

The Super Eagles edged past South Africa on penalties, while their hosts overcame Congo DR with perhaps the most convincing display of an eventful campaign - now the teams meet for a contest that will see Africa stand still.

Three-time winners in the past, Nigeria only sit behind Egypt (seven), Cameroon (five) and great rivals Ghana (four) in terms of AFCON trophies; meanwhile, Ivory Coast have two Nations Cups to their name.

Here, Sports Mole looks back on both countries' previous participations in the African confederation final.

Nigeria 1980-2000: highs and lows

Some 23 years after the inaugural finals, held in Sudan and won by Egypt, 1980 hosts Nigeria had yet to reach an AFCON decider.

Pressure was therefore weighing heavily on the squad's shoulders ahead of an eight-team event, in which the Super Eagles topped Group A, beating Ivory Coast among others to a place in the semi-finals.

After overcoming Morocco in the final four, Nigeria met another North African nation at Surulere Stadium in Lagos, where they beat Algeria 3-0 to claim Africa's top trophy for the very first time.

In the first edition featuring professional players, Segun Odegbami finished top scorer, marking the pinnacle of a career that also saw the striker claim two AFCON bronze medals and represent his country at the 1980 Olympics.

However, a long period of heartache was to follow, as Nigeria lost to their neighbouring nemesis Cameroon twice in two finals later in the 1980s: first in 1984 - when Ivory Coast played host - then when the tournament made its way to Morocco in 1988.

In 1984, the two African heavyweights met for a first time in the Africa Cup of Nations, at the same stadium where they faced each other again this year: despite taking the lead through Muda Lawal, the Nigerians ultimately suffered a 3-1 defeat.

Four years on, controversy reigned in Casablanca, as Henry Nwosu appeared to have put the Super Eagles in front with a header that beat Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph Antoine-Bell. However, his 'goal' was ruled out by Mauritanian referee Idrissa Sarr and the Indomitable Lions went on to win 1-0.

Such a setback paled in comparison with Nigeria's final failure of 2000, which again saw them pitched against Cameroon - this time on home soil.

The 'away' side swept into a two-goal lead through their potent strike partnership of Samuel Eto'o and Patrick Mboma, but the Nigerians then fought back in front of thousands of expectant fans at Lagos National Stadium: Raphael Chukwu reduced the arrears, before legendary playmaker Jay-Jay Okocha levelled matters.

It went to a penalty shootout, which featured another Nigeria hero, Nwankwo Kanu, missing from the spot; Victor Ikpeba's kick then came crashing off the crossbar. Replays seemed to show the ball had crossed the line, but the officials disagreed and a nation was left bereft.

Between the losses of 1988 and 2000, Nigeria did claim a second African crown when beating Zambia in 1994, when the finals were hosted by Tunisia.

Kicking off a year in which they would experience a memorable World Cup adventure - Clemens Westerhof's squad made the knockout phase in the USA, but Italy proved too tough to conquer in the last 16 - Emmanuel Amunike's brace sealed continental success.

Star striker Rashidi Yekini finished top scorer in a golden period for Nigeria, who would go on to claim gold at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Ivory Coast 1992: a big breakthrough

In their maiden final, Ivory Coast came up against Ghana, who were making a seventh appearance in the AFCON decider - with no fewer than four previous triumphs to their name.

After arriving in Senegal, the Ivorians made it past Zambia and Cameroon in the quarter and semi-finals, but a significant obstacle still stood between Les Elephants and the elusive trophy.

Having held the Black Stars to a tense goalless draw, Ivory Coast overcame Ghana 11-10 in a dramatic penalty shootout that was notable as the first international final in which every player took a spot-kick.

During sudden death, Anthony Baffoe finally missed for Ghana, leaving Basile Aka Kouame to etch his name in history and seal victory for the exultant Ivorians.

Nigeria 2013: back from the wilderness

Playing their first final since losing to Cameroon on penalties 13 years earlier, Nigeria finally secured a third AFCON success by beating outsiders Burkina Faso in South Africa.

Coach Stephen Keshi - who had captained the Super Eagles when they previously won the title in 1994 - not only became just the second man to lift the trophy both as a player and a manager but was also the first black African coach to do so since Ivory Coast's Yeo Martial held it aloft in 1992.

Though the Nigerians spurned several other chances, Sunday Mba scored a magnificent goal just before half-time, clipping the ball over a defender and then volleying into the far corner to produce a winner befitting the grand occasion.

Ivory Coast in the 2000s: a giant awakens

Having beaten Nigeria in the semi-finals before losing on penalties to Egypt in 2006 - when the Pharaohs began their reign of AFCON dominance - Ivorian idol Didier Drogba was intent on making up for his costly shootout miss six years later, in Gabon.

Libreville's Stade d'Angondje played host to a 0-0 draw with rank outsiders Zambia, as the 2012 AFCON drew to a dramatic close - and there was to be yet more heartbreak for Ivory Coast's golden generation, who had not conceded a single goal throughout the tournament.

After 12 successive spot kicks were scored, both Kolo Toure and Gervinho failed to convert theirs, so Herve Renard's proud Chipolopolo made history with a first-ever Africa Nations Cup victory.

Three years later, in 2015, Renard was back in the final - this time guiding the Ivorians through an event staged in Equatorial Guinea.

Though Drogba had retired from international football, Toure and his brother Yaya Toure were successful from the spot as Les Elephants beat Ghana on penalties, following another goalless draw.

Goalkeeper Boubacar Barry scored the decisive kick, as Ivory Coast overcame their Ghanaian counterparts for the second time in an AFCON finale and Renard became the first coach to win with two different nations.

The end of a 22-year wait was mostly met with relief in Abidjan and beyond, but after a decade of near misses the Ivorians could finally celebrate.


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