How Ivory Coast’s resilience pushed them to AFCON triumph

FROM L to R: Simon Adingra (AFCON 2023 Best Young player) kisses the AFCON title with Ivory Coast Skipper, Max-Alain Gradel on Sunday, February 11, 2023 (Photo/Courtesy)

On Sunday, February 11, Ivory Coast were crowned champions of the 34th edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) before an official attendance of over 57,000 in Abidjan, conquering the tournament the hard way.

The 2-1 victory over Nigeria, after going behind in the first half allowed the Elephants to win their third continental title.

Cote d’Ivoire became the first host country to win the Cup of Nations since Egypt in 2006, and yet they very nearly went out in the group stage.

Let’s see how the Elephants’ resilience pushed them to AFCON glory

Group stage: The Elephants faced early setbacks with one win and two losses in the group stage, including a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea. Qualifying for the knockouts as the fourth-best third-place team, Ivory Coast took the unconventional route and decided to part ways with their head coach after the group stage.

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Round of 16: In the Round of 16, Ivory Coast displayed grit with an 86th-minute equalizer that forced extra time, eventually eliminating the title holders Senegal on penalties.

Quarterfinals: Facing adversity, Ivory Coast played with 10 men from the 43rd minute onward. Despite a 90th-minute equalizer, they secured victory with a goal in the second minute of extra time stoppage, overcoming Mali.

Semifinals: A resilient Ivory Coast team scored a crucial 65th-minute goal to beat DR Congo and advance further in the tournament.

AFCON Final: In the final, Ivory Coast once again showcased their resilience with a 62nd-minute equalizer and an 81st-minute winner to defeat Nigeria and claim the AFCON title.

Ivory Coast’s triumph was more than just a victory; it was a testament to Ivory Coast’s unwavering determination, to overcome challenges at every stage.

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The Elephants etched their name in history with a championship won through resilience, redemption, and sheer footballing brilliance, showcasing the true spirit of the beautiful game.

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