*You Showed Great Resilient, Tinubu Hails Eagles

It was an intense match at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé. Nigeria faced off against Cote d’Ivoire, with the Ivorians putting early pressure on the Super Eagles within the first 10 minutes.

Ola Aina narrowly avoided an own goal, managing to clear the ball for a corner, while a poor pass back from Zaidu to Nwabali resulted in another corner for Cote d’Ivoire. Tensions escalated when referee Dahane Beida cautioned Nigeria’s coach, Jose Peseiro, after he voiced his frustrations to the third official.

Nigeria managed to break the deadlock when Troost-Ekong scored a header, giving them a 1-0 lead, marking his third goal of the tournament. Despite Nigeria holding onto this lead until halftime, Cote d’Ivoire continued to press, with Max Gradel’s shot being blocked, providing a crucial escape for Nigeria.

Peseiro’s substitution of Moses Simon for Samuel Chukwueze indicated a desire to solidify Nigeria’s lead, but Cote d’Ivoire seized the opportunity in the second half. Franck Kessie levelled the scoreline at 1-1 with a well-placed header past Nwabali, before Sebastien Haller capitalized on a precise cross from Simon Adingra to put Cote d’Ivoire ahead with a clinical finish into the top corner.

Despite Nigeria’s efforts to equalize, they were unable to break through Cote d’Ivoire’s defense, ultimately conceding a 2-1 defeat. Cote d’Ivoire’s victory crowned them the winners of AFCON, while Nigeria will have to settle for second place.

This victory will mark the third AFCON trophy for Cote d’Ivoire . Despite initially appearing to be in a difficult position, the host nation staged an impressive comeback, writing their place in the books of history.

Below is the full list of awards given at the AFCON:

Ecobank Best Goalkeeper

Ronwen Williams – South Africa

Air Côte d’Ivoire Fair Play Team award

South Africa

Puma Golden Boot winner

Emilio Nsue – Equatorial Guinea (5 goals)

Puma Silver Boot winner

Gelson Dala – Angola (4 goals)

Puma Bronze boot winner

Mostafa Mohamed – Egypt (4 goals)

TotalEnergies Man of the competition

William Troost-Ekong – Nigeria

Best Young Player award

Simon Adingra – Ivory Coast

Best Coach award

Emerse Faé – Ivory Coast

Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu has praised the Super Eagles for their display in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final in Ivory Coast.

Despite their loss to the host nation, Tinubu said the Eagles demonstrated resilience and talent at the tournament.

This was contained in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Sunday.

Tinubu added that Nigeria has won a great victory in the heart of Africa and the world at large.

The statement read, “President Bola Tinubu salutes the Super Eagles of Nigeria for their tenacious performance in the final of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire.

“President Tinubu commends the team, the coach, the crew, and the entire management team for their hard work, assiduity, and sacrifice to come this far in the tournament, acknowledging the hurdles they consistently surpassed with steadily improving performance as they pulled through to the finals.”

“The President urges Nigerians to be of good cheer, emphasizing that we won a great victory in the hearts of Africa and the world by our grit, rigour, and determination in the field of play.”

The president, however, urged Nigerians not to be demoralised, saying, “Let this passing event not dispirit us, but bring us together to work harder. We are a great nation bound as one by the green-white-green banner of resilience, joy, hope, duty, and untiring love.

“To those cherished Nigerian youths expressing their gifts in communities, drawing lines in the sand as they play football in their humble rectangles of play, you can be our heroes tomorrow, do not relent in your pursuit. My administration is here to make dreams come true.”

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