In a thrilling showdown at the African Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Nigeria’s Super Eagles. The outcome has now left Group A wide open and teeming with anticipation for the final stages of the tournament.
The Elephants of Côte d’Ivoire had boasted an impressive unbeaten streak spanning eight games. However, their boasts were shattered as the Super Eagles clinched a solitary goal victory through a second-half penalty, impeccably converted by William Troost-Ekong.
The game bore immense significance for both teams, with diverging mindsets and goals. A triumph for the Ivorians would have secured their passage to the knockout stage, having previously triumphed over Guinea-Bissau in their inaugural match.
On the other hand, Nigeria was in desperate need of a win to keep their qualifying dreams alive following a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea.
This exhilarating encounter marked the first competitive showdown between both rival nations in over a decade and commenced with a captivating pace, generating early chances on both sides of the pitch.
African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, made a breakaway from the Ivorian defense but unfortunately overpowered his shot. Minutes later, Christian Koame capitalized on a mistake from Zaidu Sanusi, yet his attempt was brilliantly saved by Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabili, preserving the scoreline at a tense deadlock.
Aware of the high stakes, both teams adopted a cautious approach, striving to prevent conceding a potentially disastrous goal. Consequently, star strikers Osimhen and Jean-Philippe Krasso found themselves isolated and growing increasingly frustrated. As the halftime whistle blew, the game remained goalless and cloaked in anticipation.
Eventually, it was the spirited Super Eagles who struck first, ten minutes into the second half. Osimhen was fouled inside the box by Ousmane Diomande, leading to a penalty that was confirmed by VAR. Nigeria’s captain, William Troost-Ekong, shouldered the responsibility, unleashing a blistering shot that evaded the goalkeeper’s grasp, propelling Nigeria into the lead.
Eager to equalize, Ivorian coach Jean Louis Gasset introduced fresh reinforcements from the bench. However, they struggled to create meaningful scoring opportunities, leaving the Nigerian defense largely untroubled throughout the second half.
As a result, Equatorial Guinea now tops Group A with four points, following their commanding 4-2 victory over Guinea-Bissau. Nigeria ascends to second place, level on points with the Ivorians, who have slipped to third place with three points. Guinea-Bissau remains at the bottom of the group, yet to secure a single point.