In a stunning turnaround, Ivory Coast emerged victorious in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, defeating Nigeria 2-1 in a thrilling final in Abidjan.
As the host of the tournament, the Elephants’ triumph was nothing short of miraculous, especially considering their challenging journey to the final after going behind thanks to William Troost-Ekong header to give the Super Eagles the lead.
Their resilience shone through in the knockout stages, with dramatic victories over defending champions Senegal and Mali, marked by late equalizers that showcased the team’s fighting spirit.
In the final showdown against Nigeria, Ivory Coast players found themselves trailing after William Troost-Ekong’s powerful header gave the Super Eagles the lead.
However, Franck Kessie’s timely equalizer injected new life into the Elephants, setting the stage for Haller’s unforgettable moment.
Haller’s return from testicular cancer had already been a source of inspiration for Ivory Coast, and his decisive goal in the final added another chapter to his remarkable story.
With just nine minutes remaining, Haller connected with Simon Adingra’s cross, flicking the ball into the net with precision and grace, igniting wild celebrations across Abidjan and securing Ivory Coast’s third continental title.
The victory not only cemented Ivory Coast’s place in football history but also signalled a new era of strength and resilience for the West African nation.
Meanwhile, the Bafana Bafana of South Africa took on DR Congo on Saturday, February 10, in the Africa Cup of Nations third-place play-off, with some heroics from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who saved two vital spot kicks to salvage a victory for his country.
The match was forced to extra time and was later decided on penalties after 90 minutes of action at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny. The two teams gave themselves some fight, as neither was willing to let go of the glory of claiming an AFCON bronze medal.
The penalty shootout saw some incredible heroics from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams once again, as he brought back memories of his impressive performance against Cape Verde in the quarterfinal shootout. Williams managed to save South Africa a medal when all seemed to be slipping away.
DR Congo’s Chancel Mbemba missed the crucial penalty kick which earned the Bafana Bafana bronze.
Ronwen Williams effort to deny Chancel Mbemba and DR Congo forced the shoot-out into sudden death as pressure suddenly mounted on DR Congo, with South Africa building on their momentum with another good save from goalkeeper Ronwen Williams to secure the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations bronze medal for South Africa.