The celebration is on!
In a thrilling final showdown, Sébastien Haller’s late strike propelled host nation Ivory Coast to a stunning Africa Cup of Nations triumph, edging out Nigeria 2-1 on Sunday.
Haller’s decisive goal in the 81st minute, coupled with Franck Kessié’s equalizer in the 62nd, sealed Ivory Coast’s third AFCON title, adding to their previous victories in 1992 and 2015, both clinched via penalty shootouts.
For Haller, his goal marked a personal victory, coming back strong after battling an ankle injury and overcoming cancer treatment just over a year ago.
Nigeria’s William Troost-Ekong had initially surprised Ivory Coast with a 38th-minute header, defying the run of play.
However, the Super Eagles struggled to regain momentum after Haller’s strike, falling short in their efforts to level the score.
Troost-Ekong’s goal echoed his previous performance against Ivory Coast in the group stage, where Nigeria secured a narrow 1-0 victory.
Yet, Ivory Coast’s journey through the tournament was marked by resilience, overcoming early setbacks and managerial changes.
Notably, they staged dramatic comebacks against Senegal and Mali in the knockout rounds, with Haller’s semifinal heroics securing their spot in the final.
The Elephants’ improbable run through the tournament captivated the hearts of many Ivorians, who saw it as a testament to divine favor.