Nigeria – Cote D’ Ivoire AFCON Final: Who Does The Cap Fits

By Victor Enyinnaya on February 11, 2024

Nigeria  will  today try for size host,  Cote D’ Ivoire at the ongoing 34th Africa Cup of Nations football summit. Needless to posit that already the pairing  since Wednesday last week when the setting became obvious has generated rave and robust reviews  as tension builds in both team’s camps and even amongst analysts, bookmakers and pundits alike.

This tensed atmosphere stemmed against the inflammable backgrounds of previous meetings of both countries. This analyst would not border readers much with the long history of past encounters between both great football playing countries that dates back.  It will be ticklish and dicey encounter to say the very least.

Fact is that when Cote D’ Ivoire hosted way back 1982 Nigeria came to that tournament as defending champions haven tasted  from the Cup for the first time in 1980 when she hosted and won in Lagos.  It would be recalled that it remained till date the only one Nigeria won at home. The other two was on away soil in 1994 in Tunisia and 2013 in South Africa and another fate looms.

 This set of Super Eagles will file out against the over ambitious Elephants of Cote D’ Ivoire.  Today’s final match won’t be an easy task as typical characteristic pointers between Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire.  Past meetings have never presented mild picture as both sides had to sweat from their pants in high tension soaked games be it in group stage or higher stage like today’s before a winner merges.

Just in 2013, we witnessed such scenario at the quarter – final when Super Eagles defeated star studded Elephants team then led by Didier Dorogba to bath into the semi –final of that year’s AFCON in South Africa which Nigeria with almost green horn team won.  Note that in this 34th edition, Super Eagles shunned against all predictions beat their Elephants counterparts 2-0 in group match which sent the host country to qualify for the round of 16 as one of the best loser teams which lifted them thus far.    

 It against the above background therefore that today’s final pairing between these never say die opponents would be one hell of a football final where only the fittest,  tactically and technically  superior team would survive the dangerous  it’s  effects.  In short, then expect a do or die affair.

In as much as it would be a difficult match for both teams nothing would be left for chance in this encounter of wits and brawns. The nitty – gritty would also be enormous as both squads will be hell bent to get upper hand all in the bid to lay claim to the highly prized diadem.

For the Ivoirians’ to come thus far after initial shaky start showed clearly that both the technical crew and the players  truly went back to the drawing board and evolved  active survivalist strategy. The host country no doubt has strong, better and ball joggling players on good day can be first rate performers and dangerous customers if given space to operate.

However, the Elephants knew they are in for a raw deal in the hands of their day’s opponents, the Super Eagles. Cote D’ Ivoire are aware also of what awaits them as the stage is set for an epic final. In as much as this game won’t be easy to predict judging from the kind of form and performance character the Nigerian team has displayed compact, capacity of play since the tournament kicked – off and are ready to ice the cake further today.

Super Eagles team has set the tone as the players have not hidden their readiness for her forth win in AFCON. As the players, technical crew and fans of the Super Eagles are of the opinion that haven come this far, it is too late for the Nigerian team to go back without winning the trophy.  Nigerian players are all great lads and foremost have never say die spirit that has taken them to this stage.   Once the Nigerians reenact the kind of plays they have exhibited since the beginning of the football showpiece, then Cote D’ Ivoire with arrears of her established players would run into hitches trying to contain Nigerian players running riot on the field of player as they confront their fellow West Africans today’s night.

This now or never football showdown has the trappings of a first rate and classical game as both countries on stage have rich football artistry and would exploit and also explore every trick that would turn each other back for the winner takes all 10, 000 Dollars jackpot CAF just instituted  prize money.

While Cote D’ Ivoire would be desperate to ensure it leverages to pull  revenge of past defeats Nigeria had inflicted on them, Nigeria will on the other hand be equal to the task to widen the gap and upper hand it has over the Elephants these years.  Vigilance would be the watch word for both teams. Super Eagles haven reached a state of no return would not let go.

This make or mar game will afford the outside World  yet another opportunity to watch the beauty of African football and its continuous growth  as these football powers in the continent set the tone to outwit each other for the newly introduced  high monetary prize reward for the over all winner.

However,  if current form and performance since the championship began is the yardstick to held on for today’s final then,  Nigeria remains the favorites.  But football being an unpredictable sport this analyst will leave the chat open but strongly pulled  that Nigeria is it. This is wishing Nigeria all the best.        

Source Daily Sports Nigeria

Posted February 11, 2024


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