Nigeria entered the 2023 African Cup of Nations tournament with huge expectations and potential to clinch the coveted prize. With a pack of talented players in Europe like Victor Osimhen, who recently clinched the African Best Player award for his outstanding performance in Napoli’s first Scudetto in 33 years, Ademola Lookman, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Semi Ajayi, Terem Moffi, as well as the home base players like the talented Shehu Usman, Nigeria was undoubtedly one of the biggest contenders to win the tournament.
In the Group A, Nigeria opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea. Victor Osimhen fired home a sweet equalizer two minutes after Iván Salvador gave Equatorial Guinea the lead in the 36th minute. In the second game, Nigeria battled it out and defeated the host country 1-0, all thanks to William Troost-Ekong’s well converted penalty in the 55th minute to give the team a deserved victory. José Peseiro’s men however ended the group stage run with another 1-0 win over Guinea Bissau, all thanks to a forced own goal, securing a second place finish with seven points.
Beautiful goal from Lookman saves Nigeria from Angola.
The Super Eagles faced a fierce challenge from Cameroon in the tournament’s round of 16 but Ademola Lookman’s brace was enough to save Nigeria from the threats of the Indomitable Lions, leading them to the quarter finals where they faced Angola. Again, Lookman proved to be the man of the moment, saving Nigeria again with a beautiful goal in the 41st minute. The Super Eagles’ defence were again tasked with vehemently defending the line against any threats from the opposition, all of which they did successfully.
Into the last four of the tournament, Nigeria saw off rival, South Africa in an immensely competitive match which drew into penalty shootouts. Nigeria’s captain, Troost-Ekong again converted a penalty in the 66th minute to give Nigeria the lead. The Super Eagles looked to have booked their place in the final when Osimhen slotted home an 88th minute pass from Chukwueze but this goal was ruled out and a penalty given to South Africa for a prior foul in Nigeria’s box, which Mokoena easily slotted home. In a fierce penalty shootout, Nigeria’s keeper, Stanley Nwabali proved very impressive, saving two of South Africa’s four penalties to send Nigeria to the AFCON final where they again face host country, Côte d’Ivoire.
Côte d’Ivoire defeats Nigeria to clinch third African Cup of Nations.
Host country, Côte d’Ivoire has risen from their group standings in dramatic fashion to clinch the 2023 African Cup of Nations. After qualifying for the last 16 round as one of the best losers of the tournament, The Ivory Coast Elephants continued to sail their way through numerous adversities until the final, where they came from behind to defeat Nigeria 2-1. Nigeria’s captain, William Troost-Ekong opened the scoring with a bullet header in the 38th minute but second half goals from Frank Kessié and Sébastien Haller were enough to secure the win on their home turf. South Africa also secured a third place finish, defeating DR Congo in the penalty shootout. While Troost Ekong clinched the player of the tournament award, Equatorial Guinea’s Emilio Nsue and South Africa’s Ronwen Williams also won the golden boot and best keeper respectively.
Full time in Abidjan! pic.twitter.com/6VhUhnsly4
— 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) February 11, 2024