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#AFCON2023: Will history repeat itself as Nigeria battles Ivory Coast?

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be looking to properly launch their onslaught for a fourth African Cup of Nations (AFCON) trophy by defeating Ivory Coast in their second group game.

Nigeria began their 2023 AFCON campaign with a disappointing 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in a group A match on Sunday but will go all out to beat hosts, Ivory Coast on Thursday.

The Super Eagles need to defeat the Ivory Coast to move ahead with the 2023 AFCON host nation on the table but then, history could be about to repeat itself if Nigeria avoids defeat.

The Eagles won the AFCON trophy at Nigeria 1980, Tunisia 1994, and South Africa 2013, and in each of the three times they emerged as champions, they played CIV, avoiding defeat in all.

Both countries first clashed at the AFCON when Nigeria hosted in 1980. The tie at the National Stadium, Surulere ended 0-0 and it was Nigeria’s second game (as it will be on Thursday).

The Eagles had to defeat Egypt in their third match to qualify for the semi-finals (in which they pipped Morocco 1-0) to make progress, and eventually win the trophy for the first time.

In 1994, both teams clashed in the semi-finals at the Stade El Menzah in Tunis. The match ended in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw.

Petite Michel Bassole scored for the Ivorians while Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) and Benedict Iroha netted for Nigeria.

Yekini scored the winning penalty for the Eagles, and Nigeria notched her second crown by defeating Zambia 2-1 in the final with Emmanuel Amuneke netting a brace.

In 2013, on their way to a third triumph, the Eagles edged the Elephants 2-1 in a quarter-final fixture at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg with Emmanuel Emenike and Sunday Mba scoring for Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Nigeria will seek to end its four-game winless run against Ivory Coast, having drawn 1-1 with both Lesotho and Zimbabwe in two 2026 World Cup qualifiers, lost 2-0 to Guinea in a friendly and drawn 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.

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