Ivory Coast striker Sebastien Haller has set his sights on Africa Cup of Nations glory, after his goal against DR Congo secured their spot in Sunday’s final against Nigeria.
The 29-year-old match-winner has become the poster boy of the Ivorian team at this year’s AFCON hosted in their country. Haller appears on billboards across Abidjan, advertising products from mineral water to mobile phones.
“It’s bizarre. I wasn’t expecting that,” he admitted about seeing his face everywhere. “I need to use this notoriety to serve as an example to others.”
His semi-final goal marked Haller’s first start of the tournament after missing the group stage due to an ankle injury. Ivory Coast squeezed through as the last best third-placed team, despite a disastrous 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Now injury-free, Haller helped Ivory Coast past Senegal and Mali as a substitute, before his starting chance and volley to beat DR Congo.
“It is true that we had a few slip-ups at the start of the competition but maybe we are a different team now,” Haller said after the semi-final, playing down his personal role.
Born in France, the 29-year-old chose to represent Ivory Coast in 2020 after no senior call-up from Les Bleus. After starring for Ajax, Haller joined Borussia Dortmund in 2022 but was diagnosed with testicular cancer days later.
Now cancer-free, he has the chance to lead his country to continental glory on Sunday at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. With the trophy within reach, he will be hoping to inspire Ivory Coast to one last monumental effort.