Why Super Eagles could reach AFCON 2023 final after victory against Côte d’Ivoire

A William Troost-Ekong second half penalty secured a 1-0 win for Nigeria’s Super Eagles against hosts Côte d’Ivoire, in their second Group A game at the AFCON 2023 in Abidjan on Thursday.

The Nigerian players went into the game on the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea.

But, there is the belief that Nigeria’s win against Côte d’Ivoire could mean another AFCON final appearance.

This is because anytime Nigeria win or draw against Côte d’Ivoire, they always play in the final of that year’s AFCON.

Following this belief, here are four reasons to back the claim that Nigeria could be heading for another final appearance at this year’s tournament.

– NIGERIA 0-0 COTE D’IVOIRE (1980 AFCON/Group Stage)

Muda Lawal (centre) and teammates celebrate after the midfielder scored Nigeria’s third goal at the 1980 AFCON final against Algeria in Lagos. The only game the Eagles failed to find the back of the net on their way to the final was in the goalless draw against Côte d’Ivoire. (Photo: CAF)

The first time Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire met at the AFCON was the 1980 edition in the group stage.

It was the second group stage game for host Nigeria which ended goalless.

Despite the disappointing result, Nigeria went all the way to final to lift their first-ever AFCON title.

– NIGERIA 1-0 CÔTE D’IVOIRE (1990 AFCON/Group Stage)

Algeria, captained by the legendary Rabah Madjer, defeated Nigeria in the 1990 AFCON final. Photo: AFP

Nigeria had to wait 10 years before they clashed with the Ivorians again at the AFCON, this time at Algiers 1990.

It was in another group game contest but this time Nigerian side won thanks to a goal from the late Rashidi Yekini.

It was the final group game for the Nigerian side which was a must win for them.

After eventually qualifying from the group stage alongside hosts Algeria to the semi-finals, the Nigerian side beat Zambia and advanced to the final.

Unfortunately, they lost 1-0 to Algeria thanks to a first half goal.

– NIGERIA 2-2 CÔTE D’IVOIRE: Super Eagles won 4-2 on penalties (1994 AFCON/Semi-finals)

(L-R) Nigeria’s Peter Rufai, Sunday Oliseh and Stephen Keshi celebrate with the African Nations Cup after their team’s 2-1 win over Zambia (Photo: CAF)

For the first time the Nigerian team met Côte d’Ivoire in the knockout stage at the AFCON and this time it was in the semi-finals at the 1994 edition in Tunisia.

Both teams tied at 2-2 after 120 minutes of a pulsating encounter, but it was the Nigerian side who progressed to the final after winning 4-2 in the ensuing penalty shootout.

In the final, a brace from Emmanuel Amuneke secured a 2-1 comeback win against a resolute Zambian side led by the legendary Kalusha Bwalya.

– NIGERIA 2-1 CÔTE D’IVOIRE (2013 AFCON/Quarter-finals)

Sunday Mba shoots to score against Cote d’Ivoire at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa. The midfielder would go on to score the cup-winning goal in the final against Burkina Faso. Photo: AFP

The quarter-final clash at the 2013 AFCON saw Côte d’Ivoire tipped as favourites over a Nigerian side that struggled in the group stage.

But to everyone’s surprise Nigeria won 2-1 with goals coming from Emmanuel Emenike and Sunday Mba.

The win was the turnaround the Nigerian team needed, as they hammered Mali 4-1 in the semi-finals before edging Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.


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