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A Look Into Ivory Coast’s Journey To 3rd AFCON Victory

The trajectory of Ivory Coast’s victory in the just-ended 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament has been one of an inspiring story undoubtedly.

The team almost missed out after finishing third in Group A with three points where Nigeria were leading followed by Equatorial Guinea after winning just one of their three games and losing by 1:0 against the Super Eagles and 4:0 against the National Thunder.

But then the Elephants limped into the knockout stage as one of the four best third-placed finishers eventually and parted ways with Jean-Louis Gasset, the head coach of the team for the uninspiring showpiece that characterised his supervision.

Emerse Faé, previously the assistant coach, stepped in as interim head coach and that was the game-changer for the hosts.

They eliminated defending Champions Senegal in the Round of 16 on a 5-4 penalty shootout to qualify for the quarter-finals against Mali.

They further dominated in their game against the Eagles of Mali despite playing with 10 men from the 43rd minute with a 2:1 comeback in stoppage time.

Their lifeline for the finals was advanced when they beat DR Congo in the semi-finals.

Emerse Faé’s side’s glorious story in the Nations Cup which would see them lift the cup for their country for the first time in nine years came on February 11 when they came from behind to thrash Nigeria 2:1 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

62nd and 81st minute goals by Frank Kessie and Sébastien Haller respectively powered the hosts’ ultimately deserving victory in a thrilling night.

It marked the 12th time in history, that a host country has won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, and the first since Egypt in 2006.

The Elephants first won the title in 1992 and then in 2015.

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