Let the occasion start.
Sébastien Haller scored late to steer host nation Ivory Coast to a exceptional Africa Cup of Nations title with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria within the closing Sunday.
Haller fired in from shut vary within the 81st minute to finish the turnaround after Franck Kessié drew the Elephants stage within the 62nd.
It was Ivory Coast’s third title after wins in 1992 and 2015, each received on penalties.
Haller’s second objective in as many video games after recovering from an ankle damage that saved him out of the group stage accomplished a private triumph for the participant, simply over a yr since he returned from most cancers therapy.
Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong had scored within the thirty eighth in opposition to the run of play with a header to a nook. The Tremendous Eagles have been outplayed within the first half and solely threatened once more in a determined try to equalize after Haller’s objective.
Troost-Ekong additionally scored when the groups final met within the group stage for Nigeria’s 1-0 win. That match had been simply the beginning of the Elephants’ troubles as Ivory Coast was nearly eradicated in its subsequent recreation. It fired its coach however recorded late comeback wins over defending champion Senegal and Mali within the knockout stage, earlier than Haller fired the crew into the ultimate with the profitable objective in opposition to Congo within the semifinals.
Ivory Coast’s unlikely development via the knockout stage because it overcame setback after setback satisfied many religious Ivorians that God was on the crew’s facet.
“It was a unprecedented match,” stated interim coach Emerse Faé, the earlier assistant who took over on his fortieth birthday.
Nigeria conceded as many targets within the closing because it had in all its earlier video games within the match. Coach José Peseiro had banked on a imply protection to earn what would have been the Tremendous Eagles’ fourth title.
“We performed a improbable match, however in the present day Côte d’Ivoire was higher,” Peseiro stated. The Portuguese coach stated the stress received to his gamers and counseled the house crew for exhibiting none.
Within the closing, Ivory Coast’s stress lastly paid off when Kessié’s header to Adingra’s nook set off a tumult of pleasure within the 60,000-capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium. Kessié ran to the nook and raised his hand to his brow in salute as the ocean of orange-clad followers rippled in delight.
A small pocket of green-and-white clad Nigeria followers behind one of many targets had struggled to make an impression.
Haller’s winner set off celebrations that may final lengthy via the night time in Abidjan and in the remainder of the nation of 27.5 million folks.
Pleasure had been constructing for days with streets changed into viewing areas with plastic tables and chairs set in entrance of TV screens within the district of Adjamé, and fan zones across the metropolis additionally confirmed the sport.
Site visitors was dropped at a crawl for miles across the stadium hours earlier than kickoff, offering road distributors with a captive buyer base to promote chilled bottles of water, fruit, snacks, Ivory Coast flags, hats, wigs and towels, reproduction jerseys for each groups, and extra.
Nevertheless it precipitated issues for the Nigeria crew bus attending to the sport. Armed troopers frantically urged motorists caught in gridlock outdoors the stadium to tug over for the bus and safety element to make it via.
Followers needed to abandon stationary commuter buses to stroll to the match.