The city of Abidjan will today witness the epic final match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) between hosts, Ivory Coast and Nigeria as the football powerhouses collide in a battle for continental supremacy.
Ivory Coast are looking for their third AFCON title as Nigeria target their fourth at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan.
It will be recalled that the Super Eagles had defeated Ivory Coast 1-0 in the group stage at the same stadium.
The Super Eagles who have shown both skill and grit, overcoming various challenges to reach this stage face a side showcasing their resilience and determination.
Nigeria’s disciplined approach will be tested against Ivory Coast’s attacking flair today.
The Elephants were nearly eliminated at the first hurdle having also lost to Equatorial Guinea in the final group-stage match, and parted company with their manager Jean-Louis Gasset while they awaited clarification as to whether they would progress as one of the four best third-placed finishers.
Nigeria’s on-field captain William Ekong says he expects today’s final between the Eagles and the Elephants to be a classic.
“It will not be a tea party, and we won’t be going out there with a tea cup. We will work hard and fight hard for the trophy.”
Today’s encounter will be Nigeria’s eighth final appearance in the 67-year old continental flagship competition, with only seven-time champions Egypt and four-time champions Ghana with more ginal-day games. Egypt have been in the final a total of 10 times, losing out only thrice. Ghana have been in the final nine times, winning only four times.
Nigeria’s predicted starting XI:
Stanley Nwabali, Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman.
Ivory Coast’s predicted starting XI:
Yahia Fofana, Wilfried Singo, Odilon Kossounou, Evan Ndicka, Ghislain Konan, Frank Kessié, Jean-Michael Seri, Seko Fofana, Max Gradel, Sebastian Haller, Simon Adingra