What You Need to Know:
- Ivory Coast, playing as hosts, delivered a memorable comeback in the AFCON final, securing their third cup title by defeating Nigeria 2-1 in Abidjan.
- South Africa defeated DR Congo 6-5 on penalties to secure their best finish at the tournament in 24 years.
- The Winner of the Total Energies AFCON Côte d’Ivoire 2023 will receive USD 7 000 000. i.e. 1,120,000,000 KSH.
- Runner-up: $4,000,000. i.e. 640,000,000 KSH.
- Semi-finalists (2 teams): $2,500,000. i.e. 400,000,000 KSH each.
- Quarter-finalists (4 teams): $1,300,000. i.e. 208,000,000 KSH each.
The host nation has clinched victory in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations for the 12th time in history, marking their first win since Egypt in 2006. This triumph also represents Côte d’Ivoire’s third championship title, following their victories in 1992 in Senegal and 2015 in Equatorial Guinea.
Rarely does a team qualify from their group as the fourth-best among four third-placed teams, sack their coach, and ultimately lift the trophy. Yet, such is the nature of the Africa Cup of Nations, a tournament renowned for its dramatic twists and the realization of improbable outcomes.
Ivory Coast appeared destined for an early elimination after a 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea in their final group-stage match. However, they managed to advance to the knockout phase and defeated Senegal, Mali, and DR Congo to progress further.
In the final, Nigeria’s captain and former Watford FC center-back William Troost-Ekong initially put the Super Eagles ahead with a header, but Franck Kessie equalized for Ivory Coast. Sebastien Haller completed the comeback for the hosts in a fully packed stadium securing a remarkable victory over Nigeria in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Elsewhere, South Africa’s captain Ronwen Williams was the key man again, as the quarter-final hero saved two spot-kicks to secure the third place spot.
The game, which ended goalless, went straight to penalties after 90 minutes.
Read Also: AFCON 2023 Semi-Finals Preview and Schedule
Following their semi-final loss to Nigeria via a penalty shootout, South Africa became the first team to participate in three consecutive AFCON shootouts. This streak came after Williams saved four penalties during the quarter-final victory against Cape Verde.
Fielding a starting lineup predominantly comprised of players from Mamelodi Sundowns, the Pretoria-based club that clinched the inaugural African Football League title last year, the team has only conceded one goal in their past six matches. This lone goal was conceded during the semi-final loss to Nigeria.
Nevertheless, they rode their luck against the Congolese – who had made nine changes to the team beaten in the semi-finals – at times.
However, the Leopards can reflect on a remarkable season during which they suffered only one defeat, against the Ivorians on Wednesday. Coach Sebastian Desabre adeptly guided the team, forming them into a cohesive unit with a strong defense and dynamic offense.
The Confédération Africaine de Football (“CAF”) earlier in January announced a 40% increase in the Prize Money for the Winner of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023.
The President of CAF Dr Patrice Motsepe said: “CAF has made significant progress over the past two years in increasing the Prize Money of the AFCON and all its other major competitions. We have increased the Prize Money of the AFCON Winner to USD 7 000 000 which is a 40% increase from the previous AFCON Prize Money. I am confident that a portion of the Prize Money will contribute to developing football and also benefit all the football stakeholders, as well as assist our Member Associations with their administrations.”
The Best Player for most valuable player of the tournament went to Nigeria’s captain William Ekong.
Equatorial Guinea’s Emilio Nsue bagged the top Goal scorer for most prolific goal scorer.
The Best Goalkeeper for most outstanding goalkeeper went to South Africa’s Ronwen Williams.
The Best Young Player for the most outstanding young player was received by Ivory Coast’s sensational Simon Adingra.
The Fair Play Award for the team with the best record of fair play went to South Africa.
Ivory Coast triumph represents vindication for interim boss Emerse Fae after stepping in following a desperate start under Jean-Louis Gasset.
Left seemingly down and out, the Elephants have instead rediscovered their roar to win the AFCON on home soil in the most dramatic fashion.
Kudos to the Elephants!
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