AFCON 2023: Haller fires Ivory Coast past DR Congo to set up final tie with Nigeria

Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller scored the only goal to send the elephants into the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations happening this Sunday (Photo/Getty)

Borussia Dortmund striker, Sebastien Haller scored the only goal as hosts Ivory Coast defeated DR Congo to set up a final tie against Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final this Sunday.

Haller broke the deadlock in the 65th minute by firing the ball into the ground before looping over the head of DR Congo goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi and into the net. Max-Alain Gradel provided the assist.

The 29-year-old had a golden opportunity to double Ivory Coast’s advantage just five minutes later, but his attempted lob went wide of the right-hand post.

Sunday’s AFCON final is the first time since 2015 that Ivory Coast has reached the final of this continental tourney. They won the tournament in that year.

Ivory Coast, the host nation of AFCON, had sacked former manager Jean-Louis Gasset midway through the tournament after two consecutive group-stage losses to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea and qualified for the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed teams.

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Former Reading midfielder Emerse Fae was named interim manager and his side went on to beat 2021 winners Senegal in the last 16, as well as Mali in the quarter-finals via a last-minute winner in extra time from Oumar Diakite.

Nigeria, meanwhile, secured a spot in the final with a 4-2 penalty shootout win against South Africa.

The AFCON final between Ivory Coast and Nigeria will take place this Sunday, February 11, 2024, at Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.

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How both teams started

Cote d’Ivoire: Yahia Fofana – Wily Bolly, Evan Ndicka, Wilfried Singo, Ghislain Konan, Seko Fofana (Ibrahim Sangare 61), Max Gradel (Jeremie Boga 90), Franck Kessie, Jean Michel Seri (Lazare Amani 60), Sebastien Haller (Jean-Philippe Krasso 89), Simon Adingra(Jonathan Bamba 80)

DR Congo: Lionel Mpasi – Arthur Masuaku, Chancel Mbemba, Henoc Inonga, Gedeon Kalulu, Gael Kakuta (Theo Bongonda 46), Charles Pickel (Aaron Tshibola 69), Samuel Moutoussamy, Elia Meschak (Silas Mvumpa 78), Cedric Bakambu (Simon Banza 68), Yoane Wissa (Fiston Mayele 70)

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