34th Africa Cup of Nations: 8 unforgettable records that were broken
By Zion Rufus
They say the elephant never forgets, but it seems it overlooked the eagle’s indomitable spirit; Naija no Dey carry last!
But we lost the final draw (premium tears)
What could be worse than starting your Monday as a football lover, heading to work with the bitter taste of your team’s loss lingering? Nigeria’s Super Eagles faced a daunting challenge on Sunday, and although their quest for a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title met a roadblock against hosts Ivory Coast, the game unfolded as one of the most thrilling spectacles in recent memory. Nigerians, armed with banter and enthusiasm as fans passionately rooted for the Nigerian Super Eagles, created a vibrant online atmosphere that added an extra layer of excitement to the match.
It was Nigeria against the rest of the African continent.
Should we even talk about how we were ready to drag Ivory Coast’s les Elephants in the mud? The online banter had reached its zenith as Nigerians were set to drink water with the Elephant’s tusk.
In the end, “The elephant can survive only if its forests survive”, attempting to beat Ivory Coast in their home might have been a monumental challenge, but it was an exhilarating watch nonetheless. That quote was by Mark Shand anyway. I doubt we would ever know what it originally meant.
An Exceptional AFCON Unfolds
The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, hosted by Ivory Coast for the second time, proved to be the most remarkable and impressive tournament to date. It held football enthusiasts from across the globe in its spell, showcasing extraordinary talent, fierce competition, and unpredictable outcomes. The climax of the championship saw Ivory Coast emerge victorious with a 2-1 win over Nigeria at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Let’s delve into the records that were broken at this year’s championship as highlighted by Bettors
A Remarkable Final:Ivory Coast’s Triumph
Sébastien Haller etched his name in the tournament’s history by scoring the winning goal for the hosts in the 81st minute. This instinctive finish, orchestrated by Simon Adingra on the wing, secured Ivory Coast’s third AFCON triumph, bringing them level with Nigeria as the joint-fourth most successful team in tournament history. It marked Ivory Coast’s first AFCON victory since 2015, a truly remarkable achievement.
Emerse Faé’s Footballing Fairytale
The victory becomes even more remarkable considering Ivory Coast’s coach, Emerse Faé, took charge only after the group stage. Jean-Louis Gasset, the initial manager, faced challenges as his team lost two of three group-stage games. Faé’s appointment led to a footballing fairytale, culminating in a come-from-behind victory over Nigeria in the AFCON final.
Sébastien Haller’s Inspirational Journey
Sébastien Haller’s winning goal carried additional significance as it came one year after his return to football post-beating cancer. His 81st-minute winner in front of an electric Stade Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpé secured the Elephants’ third continental crown and their first since 2015.
4. Super Eagles’ Unbeaten Streak Shattered
The Super Eagles, previously unbeaten in their last 22 matches in the competition when scoring first, saw their streak shattered by Ivory Coast. Despite taking the lead, Nigeria faced a resilient host team that fought back and ultimately secured victory.
Ivory Coast’s Improbable Journey
Before this edition, no team finishing third in their AFCON group had gone on to win the trophy. Ivory Coast defied the odds, overcoming challenges during the group stages and eventually clinching the title. Emerse Faé’s takeover as coach played a pivotal role in orchestrating this improbable journey.
André Ayew’s Record-Tying Feat
Ghana’s André Ayew etched his name in AFCON history, tying Rigobert Song for the most matches played at the tournament with 36 appearances. Ayew also shares the record for the most AFCON appearances (8) with Tunisia’s Youssef Msakni.
Records for Egypt and Nigeria
Egypt extended its record for the most overall AFCON appearances, marking its 26th participation. Nigeria, with this second-place finish, extended its record as the nation with the most medals, boasting a total of 16 (gold, silver, and bronze).
End of Ivory Coast’s Host Curse
Ivory Coast’s triumph also ended a long-standing record of host countries not winning AFCON, a streak that persisted since 2006. This victory marks a turning point and adds a new chapter to the tournament’s history.
The drama, records, and extraordinary moments showcased the beauty of the sport. While Nigeria may have faced disappointment, the tournament’s overall spectacle, crowned by Ivory Coast’s triumph, will be remembered for years to come.