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AFCON: Nigerian fans' dream comes to an end

A disappointed Nigerian fan following Ivory Coast's win in the AFCON final. 11/02/2024   -  
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Nigerian fans' dreams of a victory at the Africa Cup of Nations came to an end on Sunday following Ivory Coast's second half goals in the final match of the tournament.

Sébastien Haller scored late to fire host nation Ivory Coast to a remarkable AFCON title with a 2-1 victory over rival Nigeria.

Haller fired in from close range in the 81st minute to complete the turnaround after Franck Kessié drew the host nation level in the 62nd.

It is Ivory Coast’s third title after wins in 1992 and 2015, both won on penalties.

Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong had scored in the 38th against the run of play with a header to a corner. 

However, the Super Eagles were soon outplayed in the first half and really only threatened again in a desperate attempt to equalize after Haller's goal.

Coach José Peseiro had banked on a mean defense to earn what would have been the Super Eagles’ fourth title, but in the end, Nigeria conceded as many goals in the final as it had in all its previous games in the tournament. 

With Haller's winner setting off celebrations that will last long through the night in Abidjan, a Nigerian fan believed the Super Eagles did not show up when it mattered most.

"I'm not happy. And the reason for me not being happy is obvious. We just lost the African Cup of Nations final to Cote d'Ivoire when the expectations were very high," Ayeni said. "Nigerians were in our millions behind the Super Eagles of Nigeria because they've done extremely well before this final and just come here after scoring the first goal and we just felt like a pack of cards in the end when it mattered most, the Super Eagles couldn't fly."

Excitement had been building for days with viewing areas set up in Lagos with hopes that the Super Eagles will lift the trophy.

Nigeria entered the tournament with low expectations due to a poor run of form in friendly games and World Cup qualifiers.

Fans have repeatedly called for the dismissal of Coach José Peseiro. However, given the Super Eagles' performance at the Africa Cup of Nations, one might question whether José Peseiro will be retained.

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