ESPN analysts Ed Dove and Colin Udoh analyze the match from the perspective of the victorious Les Éléphants and the defeated Super Eagles.
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If there really was an appropriate time to celebrate a true football fairy tale, it would be Ivory Coast’s comeback win over Nigeria in Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final.
It was Haller, a year after returning to football after beating cancer, who scored the winning goal in the 81st minute against an electric Stade Alassane Ouattara in the Abidjan suburb of Ebimpé, to clinch the club’s third continental crown. history of the Elephants, and the first since 2015.
Over the past three weeks, the host nation has experienced the full range of emotions at the tournament.
They were demoralized in their homeland by Equatorial Guineafired his coach, qualified for the playoffs only as one of four “lucky losers” among the third-place finishers, eliminated the champion Senegal on penalties after late equalizer, eliminated Mali in the 122nd minute despite playing with 10 men for more than an hour, and now they lift Africa’s main sporting title in front of their adoring public.
This is, of course, the same crowd that booed them mercilessly, and even threw projectiles at them in disgust, after that 4-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea. Now, however, they serenaded their heroes – as they did against Mali – with an impromptu a cappella rendition of “L’Abidjanaise,” the country’s national anthem, to give The Elephants A boost from the stands after a William Troost-Ekong header in the first half gave Nigeria the lead.
With momentum on their side, this Ivory Coast team, enjoying new life under interim head coach Emerse Faé, appointed after that group stage defeat, feels capable of anything, and when Franck Kessie Tied on a corner kick, the locals grew while their opponents ran out of ideas.
Unlike what happened earlier in the tournament, The Elephants we were comfortably the best team here, with Jean-Michael Seriin particular, controlling things from the heart of midfield as Nigeria’s timid counterparts allowed the hosts to assert themselves.
Faé deserves credit for the bold personnel decisions he made early in the campaign: there was no room for Nicolas Pepe, Jérémie Boga either jonathan bamba during the final, and his decision to eliminate Max Gradel and Serge Aurier (with 200 caps between them) with 20 minutes left was another surprising decision from the rookie coach.
It paid off, as the Ivorians’ influence grew (they recorded 18 shots to Nigeria’s five, with over 62% possession) and the muscular Seko Fofana and Kessié gave visitors little room for control or expression.
deserves special mention Brighton and Hove Albion winger Adingra who, with just five caps before the tournament, should be recognized as the breakout star of the AFCON. He was underused by Jean Louis Gasset, the team’s original head coach, and was only included as a last-minute substitute during the Equatorial Guinea defeat.
Faé has had no such qualms about throwing Adingra into the fight and it was the 22-year-old who scored the equalizing goal against Mali in the 90th minute, and it was his excellent play that set up both Kessié and then Haller to secure the definitive victory. . The player’s vibrant performance contributed to Ola AinaAdingra’s nervous display signaled that he could well be Africa’s next big thing. — Pigeon
What a day for Nigeria to choose to have a bad day at the office. The Super Eagles’ bid to win their fourth African Cup of Nations title came to a grinding halt against hosts Ivory Coast on Sunday.
Live by the sword, die by the sword. Organized but conservative defensive football, based on high-intensity pressing and quick counter-attacks, took the Super Eagles to the brink of that fourth crown, but in the end, it was the Achilles’ heel that heralded their downfall.
This, coupled with coach José Peseiro’s reluctance to use his full squad and keep the same set of players throughout the tournament, caused some legs to fall behind and simply not cope. The Éléphants’ fresher legs and a more expansive attacking approach.
The defense has taken Peseiro’s Super Eagles to the final, from whom not much was expected when they left for the tournament, but, in the end, when Peseiro needed to turn around and go on the offensive, he waited too long and it turned out to be fatal.
Peseiro, who was about to make history as the first Portuguese to win the AFCON title, made two changes to the starting eleven for this final. Zaidu Sanusiwhose absence was felt in the semi-final against South Africa, was restored to the starting lineup. A less understandable decision was Samuel Chukwueze before Moses Simon. He Nantes The man has started every previous game, offering not only an offensive threat but also defensive cover for the full-backs. His absence left Aina exposed to being constantly attacked by Adingra with little to no support.
Once again, and as he has done throughout the tournament, Peseiro waited too long to make his changes. Captain William Troost-Ekong gave the Super Eagles the advantage against the run of play, although Nigeria has never bothered to contest possession throughout the tournament, but after the goal, the hosts pressed even harder and still Peseiro persisted.
In the end, this inflexibility was his team’s undoing. The mental toll was as serious as the physical, with a performance of errors scattered throughout the field. Calvin Bassey He gave the ball away almost upon request. Aina seemed a shadow of her quick and confident self, and Zaid Sanusi made multiple mistakes that went unpunished.
When the tie came, it was due to avoidable mistakes that they would not have made in previous matches. Bassey lost his man in the corner and Sanusi, who was protecting the goal line, came out to cover and found himself in no man’s land. The same thing happened with the winner, Aina isolated himself against Adingra and allowed a cross that he would not have allowed before.
Nigeria can be proud of the team’s performance and both coach and players will return home to applause after extending their record for most podium finishes in AFCON history, taking their medal tally to 16, three more than Egypt. But they remain behind their archrivals. Cameroon in five titles and Ghana in four, and that will irritate him. For Peseiro, while he may have met the goal set by the Nigerian Football Federation of reaching the semi-final, his overly conservative approach, which ultimately failed him at the line, will be the same firecracker that hangs on him. .
Of course, they won’t fire him with World Cup The qualifiers will take place this year, but their hold on the position will be fragile and a mistake in World Cup qualification will not bode well. — Udoh