FRANCK FIFE / AFP
The Nigerian Calvin Bassey in the duel with Jean-Philippe Krasso during the first confrontation between the two teams on the second day of CAN 2024.
FOOTBALL – A sweet scent of revenge will undoubtedly hover over the Alassane-Ouattara stadium. In Ivory Coast, the dream of a final at home finally came true for the millions of supporters of the Elephants, the host nation with a daunting journey in this 2024 Africa Cup of Nations.
This Sunday, February 11, the long-awaited meeting between Nigeria and Ivory Coast, however, has the air of déjà vu, to the great dismay of Ivorian supporters who will still be present in large numbers in Abidjan. But the miraculous journey of the team coached by Emerse Faé – he took his position during the CAN – can only promise a crazy match against one of the most established teams in this African competition.
Ivorian roller coasters
To say that the Ivorians’ journey to the final is a miracle is not an exaggeration. Ivory Coast supporters will have experienced everything during this edition of the CAN. An emotional rollercoaster that began with an encouraging victory in the opening match of the competition.
But two matches (and two defeats) later, Ivory Coast already lost its French coach Jean-Louis Gasset, before even knowing whether or not his team would reach the round of 16. Saved at the last minute by Morocco’s result in its last match, the Elephants then found a semblance of hope by becoming the last of the 16 teams qualified for the final stages.
After an eighth and a quarter with crazy scenarios against the Senegalese title holder and against Mali, the initial anger of the local supporters finally transformed into unexpected strength of character for the host team of the competition. To the point that a more than ironic song imagined by the players becomes the anthem of an entire country, which is starting to dream of a new title again after those of 1992 and 2015.
Easier winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the semi-final, Côte d’Ivoire only has to get rid of Nigeria in the final to celebrate a new continental title.
Advantage to the “Super Eagles”?
But there is a catch. Against Côte d’Ivoire, it’s not just any team that advances. The CAN 2019 semi-finalists have arguments to make, despite a much more classic course than that of their opponents. Especially since Nigeria, led by its star Victor Osimhen, has already clashed with the Ivorians in the group stage. The meeting between the two teams from Group A had finally turned to the advantage of the “ Super Eagles », winners 1-0.
This first Ivorian defeat at home was also the first trigger of the Ivorian crisis of confidence. This materialized in the following match with a 4-0 slap against Equatorial Guinea.
For their part, the Nigerians had an almost flawless performance: one draw, four “clean sheet” and a final victory – also miraculous – on penalties against South Africa in the semi-final. And this, after temporarily leading 2-0 before a goal was invalidated and the two found themselves at 1-1 a few moments later.
This final therefore promises a great show, which it will also be possible to see clearly on television. W9 having chosen to cancel its Sunday evening at the last minute to broadcast the meeting, to be followed from 9 p.m.
Also see on The HuffPost: