The vibrancy and skill of football were demonstrated by the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON). This edition of AFCON, which took place in front of an incredible display of talent, and passion was a major turning point in the history of African football.


Both Ivory Coast and Nigeria had faced challenges before the championship. Thanks to their outstanding play and strong defense Nigeria rose to the top of the rankings, as seen by Betway AFCON betting offers, despite not being considered one of the tournament’s greats. In the group stage, Ivory Coast was severely defeated. They went on to advance into the final as hosts despite losing two of their three games and firing their coach. 

In addition to their continental triumphs in 1992 and 2015, the hosts added their third AFCON title after defeating the Super Eagles with two goals in the second half. Following their 1-0 loss to the Nigerians in the tournament’s group stages, Ivory Coast experienced a great sense of thrill after their victory.

Match Analysis

With the help of their passionate supporters and the play-making of midfielders Seko Fofana and Jean Michaël Seri, Ivory Coast dominated the first half.

Nigeria unexpectedly took the lead in the 38th minute thanks to a header from Troost-Ekong, their first effort on goal of the game, despite Ivory Coast’s control.

Ivory Coast came dangerously close to equalizing early in the second half when Max Gradel’s close-range attempt was deflected by Calvin Bassey’s left boot and stopped by Stanley Nwabali.

Relentless efforts by the home team paid off as they managed to even out the score from a corner kick, leading to joy from players all over the stadium, including Didier Drogba. Kessié took advantage of mistakes made by the defense and pushed the ball past Nwabali in the 62nd minute of the match, and shortly after Sébastien Haller secured a 2-1 goal advantage for Ivory Coast. 

Nigeria made strong attempts to align, but Ivory Coast defended firmly till the final whistle. Joyous celebrations broke out on the field and in the stands as the referee blew the whistle, signaling Ivory Coasts’ victory as AFCON champions.

Champion’s Journey

After losing 4-0 to Equatorial Guinea in their last group-stage match, the Ivorians faced many challenges on their journey to the championship, including the selection of a new head coach. Before making it to the round of 16, the Ivory Coast fired head coach Jean-Louis Gasset and appointed former midfielder Emerse Fae in his place. 

As demonstrated in the AFCON final, Ivory Coast is a team that enjoys keeping the ball and moving it wide for scoring opportunities. With 8 of their 18 shots on target, Ivory Coast’s xG is 1.45. 

“When I think about all we went through, the hard times when we almost out, and the matches where we came back in the last minutes, we have created some miracles. But it is also because we kept fighting to the last minute when the odds were against us,” said Fae, “We feel relief firstly after all the difficulties. We were close to humiliation but when we had a second chance, we were determined not to waste it.”

Fan Reactions

It is no secret that the atmosphere following the victory was ecstatic. Both players and fans were sharing a special moment of happiness, thrill, and excitement. As the end of the game was nearing, fans were sitting at the edge of their seats waiting for the final whistle that would indicate the victory. 

The celebration parade started at Hôtel Palmier, and as the parade’s start time grew closer, the crowd gradually grew larger. The cheering volume increased along with the crowd size, with horns honking and unplanned chants and dancing. People danced in the streets, celebrating their incredible comeback and spreading their underdog stories throughout the community.

The first players unexpectedly showed up at 15:00 GMT on the flatbed truck that would take them through Abidjan to the Félix Houphouët Boigny stadium, which can hold over 30,000 people, for the trophy presentation.

The Elephants were crowned “Champions of Africa 2023” by the banners on the truck, which also featured three stars, a reference to their accomplishment of winning this competition three times.

It was a moment that demonstrated how football was a game that brings people together through mutual joy and pride.

“It’s amazing. The first part of the tournament was very difficult but afterward, the players played very well and today we are very happy. Today we have to do some parties, it’s obligatory,” said Kwaku, a fan at the parade.


AFCON 2023 will be remembered for more than just a football tournament. It is a great portrayal of the beauty of the sport. The tournament showcased great young talent ready for many more opportunities and victories. 

Moreover, the tournament served as an inspiration to fans and players. It was a great deal of motivation that only left everyone wanting more. 

The tournament will leave a lasting mark of passion and excitement that will inspire support and investment in football at all levels.

According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), over two billion people watched the competition live on television in total. Contracts with numerous broadcasters, such as Sky and the BBC, have helped increase the audience for the competition, and CAF President Patrice Motsepe anticipates even higher attendance for the next tournament.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, AFCON 2023 provided a fitting send-off to a competition packed with drama, thrills, and life-changing experiences. The competition as a whole featured the best of African football, and Ivory Coast’s victory was a monument to their talent and determination.