Ivory Coast winners of the 2023 (2024) African ChampionshipsThe 2023 African Championship (AFCON), or 2024 which was the year the championship was actually played, was won yesterday by the home nation Ivory Coast after taking, to say the least, a checkered road to the title. The team defeated Nigeria in the final with 2-1 after turning the match from 0-1 into a victory in the second half. The winning goal was scored by Sébastien Haller in the 81st minute of the match, and as he also decided Ivory Coast's semi-final against Democratic Republic of Congo, he became the nations hero in this championship.
Sébastien Haller - the nations here after scoring the winning goal in the final
Ivory Coast's road to the finalBut as said, there was no straight road to victory for the Ivory Coast. They started well by winning the first group stage match against Guinea-Bissau with 2-0, but then suffered losses against both Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Against Equatorial Guinea they lost by a whopping 0-4 and this led to the team's coach, the Frenchman Jean-Louis Gasset, being sacked. Despite two losses and a third place in the group, they advanced to the round of 16 as one of the best third placed team from the group stage.
In the round of 16 against Senegal, Franck Kessié equalized with a penalty in the 86th minute and the match went to a penalty shootout, which they eventually won. In the quarter-finals they had to face Mali and there as well they were losing with 0-1 but managed to equalize in the 90th minute, taking the match to extra time. In extra time, Oumar Diakité scored the winning goal in the 122nd minute, basically the last kick of the match. The semi-final was then won in a more normal way with 1-0, the winning goal scored (as mentioned) by Haller in the 65th minute.
In other words, they really had to fight for this title and avoided being eliminated by the smallest possible margin three times. On top of this, after Gasset was fired, they had problems getting an interim coach in place, but it ended up with Gasset's assistant coach Emerse Faé leading the team to the final victory. Considering all this, the Ivory Coast's third title in the African Championship probably tastes extra sweet, especially considering that it happened in the championship that they themselves hosted.
It should also be mentioned that South Africa won the bronze match against Democratic Republic of Congo after 0-0 and penalties. This was South Africa's first medal in the championship since they won the bronze in 2000.
The Golden Boot winner from Equatorial GuineaThe top scorer in the African Championship, thus the Golden Boot winner, was Emilio Nsue from Equatorial Guinea. In total, Nsue scored five goals, three of which came when he scored a hat-trick against Guinea-Bissau in their 4-2 group stage win.
In shared second place with four goals each we find two players, Gelson Dala from Angola and Mostafa Mohamed from Egypt.