Nigeria have accepted to “make do with the silver” after a narrow 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast in the Grand Finale of the AFCON 2023 tournament played at Alassane Ouattara Stadium
A hope for a fourth trophy ended in disappointment as the Ivorians rose to the occasion to clinch the title with few minutes to play.
It became another Silver for Nigeria on Ivorian soil, replicating a similar painful feat in 1984 when they lost to Cameroon in the Final at Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium.
The Super Eagles took the lead in the clash when captain William Troost-Ekong headed them ahead, only for Franck Kessie to equalize for the resilient Ivorians. The game was decided in the 81st minute as Sebastien Haller fired home to clinch a 3rd AFCON trophy for Ivory Coast.
The loss denied Nigeria a chance at a 4th continental title in heartbreaking fashion. But taking to social media after the match, the Super Eagles posted: “Disappointed, yet we make do with the Silver Medal.”
It was a case of so close yet so far for Nigeria, who had hoped to end their long wait for AFCON glory dating back to 2013. The captain’s goal had put them on track before the hosts rallied in front of their home fans in Abidjan.
The Elephants completed a momentous turnaround after barely surviving the group stages. But Nigeria can hold their heads high after matching their opponents for long periods before ultimately being edged out.
With continental supremacy narrowly eluding them, the Super Eagles will now look to regroup and set their sights on future challenges. Despite falling agonizingly short, their fighting spirit and assurance of more success will provide solace.