AFCON 2023: Elephants Charge, Super Eagles Soar, But Will Anyone Notice the Zebras in the Third-Place Parade?

Ah, AFCON! Where passion ignites, vuvuzelas blare, and drama unfolds thicker than the heat in an Abidjan February. This year’s tournament has been a rise and fall show – more twists and turns than a bowl of spaghetti. And now, we stand at the precipice of the final, a clash so epic it should be sponsored by the Ministry of Hyperbole.

Cote d’Ivoire, the comeback kings, stumbled out the gate like a gazelle with two left hooves. Remember their group stage drubbing by Equatorial Guinea? Yeah, neither do they (probably). But fueled by the roar of the home crowd (and maybe some questionable officiating calls), they clawed their way back, eliminating the mighty Senegal in the rought of sixteen after a late equalizer. Mali after leading on the scoreline couldn’t resist the double comeback of the elephants in the last minutes and then pulling a Houdini against DR Congo. Now, they stand poised to add another tusk to their national trophy collection.

Speaking of DR Congo, their Leopards were clawing for glory too, until Haller’s header sent them packing. Don’t cry for them though, the congolese got themselve sin trouble by letting Haller unmarked on four occasions and were eventually purnished. Nevertheless, they get a consolation prize: a dust-up with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the third-place playoff. This match promises to be as exciting as watching a mixture of congolese rumba with southa frican Gwara Gwara dance, which, let’s be honest, is always a possibility at AFCON.

But the real main event is the final: Nigeria’s Super Eagles, rise high on a wave of penalty shootout victories, face the Ivorian Elephants in a battle for continental bragging rights. Will it be a tactical chess match worthy of Mourinho’s masterclass? Or will it devolve into a physical battle between two powerhouses of African football ? Only the Soothsayer knows for sure.

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