Cote d’ivoire s forward #22 Sebastien Haller celebrates scoring his team’s second goal. AFP As it happened 40 years ago in Abidjan, the Nigerian team again fluffed a first half lead and ended up losing an Africa Cup of Nations final match. They lost 2-1 to a resurrected Cote d’Ivoire side who became the first team to lose two matches in the group stage and then win the trophy. It is the fifth time that the Super Eagles are losing a cup final after those of 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000.
Although it is the third time that Cote d’Ivoire will win the cup, it is first time they did it in open play. Their earlier to victories in 1992 and 2015 were from penalty shoot-out.
In reality, the Ivorians, backed by a capacity crowd, were the better side and created more scoring chances.
Skipper William Troost-Ekong who took his goal tally to three, shot Nigeria ahead in the 38th minute from the Super Eagles’ first corner kick in the match.
In the second half, the Ivorians came out strongly, piling pressure on the Nigerian side., Franck Kessie equalized for Côte d’Ivoire just two minutes after the hour-mark. Striker Sebastien Haller then scored the winner with ten minutes remaining, completing the Ivorian victory.
Côte d’Ivoire faced the possibility of an early exit from the competition during the group stage, but they secured their place in the second round in the final moments, fulfilling their mission and clinching the title on home soil.