Ivory Coast sealed a magnificent TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title triumph after coming from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1 in Sunday’s gripping final.
A packed-to-the-rafters Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan was the perfect setting for the Elephants to add a third African title in front of their loyal supporters who rallied them to the comeback victory.
Sebastien Haller proved the hero, scoring the decisive goal as the Elephants completed a sensational comeback.
The hosts looked doomed after William Troost-Ekong’s first half opener for Nigeria in Abidjan.
But Frank Kessie levelled right after the break before Haller, who recovered from cancer last year, sparked ecstatic scenes by firing the late winner.
It capped an incredible turnaround for Ivory Coast after almost crashing out in the group stages. Their campaign appeared over after a disastrous 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Yet interim boss Emerse Fae inspired a spirited fightback to reach the final. This resilient collective spirit shone through again as they recovered from Troost-Ekong’s opener.
Nigeria’s defence looked typically defiant until Kessie rifled in a crucial equaliser.
With penalties looming, Haller then struck the decisive blow, firing home with 13 minutes remaining.
His winner sealed a historic comeback amid emotional scenes in Abidjan. Eight years after their last title, Ivory Coast reign again as kings of Africa.
This triumph represents vindication for Fae after stepping in following a desperate start under Jean-Louis Gasset.
Left seemingly down and out, the Elephants have instead rediscovered their roar to win the AFCON on home soil in the most dramatic fashion.