The drama unfolded like a poorly choreographed ballet at the Ebimpe Stadium. Nigeria, resembling a defensive ostrich with its head buried in the sand (or rather, two defensive walls in their 3-4-2-1 playing formation), were surprised by the rampant Ivorian elephants who charged from the get-go ( With a 4-3-3 with Andigra, Haller and Gradel upfront). Despite the choice of defensive football that gave the initiative of the game to Côte d’ivoire, a set-piece corner saw Nigeria inexplicably snag the lead, leaving everyone wondering if the scriptwriters had gotten their matches mixed up.
But fear not, for this was an AFCON final, and what would it be without a healthy dose of last-minute theatrics? Cue the Ivorian comeback, as predictable as a sunrise, with goals from Kessié (62nd) and Haller (81st) puncturing the Nigerian balloon faster than a toddler with a pin.
Nigeria’s response? A frantic, flailing attempt in the dying minutes that resembled a fly trapped in a jar. It was all rather… well, Nigerian. Disorganized, predictable, and ultimately ineffective.
Meanwhile, the Ivorian fans erupted in a cacophony of joy, their team having achieved the seemingly impossible: winning aklost every knockout game after going down a goal. Were they the phoenix of African football, rising from the ashes of despair? Or perhaps more accurately, the cockroach of the tournament, refusing to be squashed despite repeated attempts?
Whatever the metaphor, Côte d’Ivoire now stands tall with their third AFCON title, a testament to their never-say-die attitude (or perhaps just good ol’ fashioned luck). As for Nigeria, they can hold their heads high, having reached the final after an unconvincing AFCON start. But let’s be honest, they did it the hard way – by playing like, well, Nigeria.
So, raise a glass to the new champions, Côte d’Ivoire! May their reign be long, dramatic, and, most importantly, full of last-minute comebacks. And to Nigeria, a gentle reminder: sometimes, the best defeats prepare victories of the future.