(Watch Video) Haller scores! 81’… Nigeria 1-2 Ivory Coast

It’s another fantastic cross from Adingra and it’s a striker’s finish. Instinctive, he knows where the goal is, Sebastien Haller sticks his leg out.

The outstanding Adingra beat Aina yet again on the left and hammered a superb cross towards the near post. Haller got across Troost-Ekong and improvised ingeniously, lifting his leg well above waist height to stud the ball into the far corner.

(Watch Video) Kessie scores! 63’… Nigeria 1-1 Ivory Coast

It’s Franck Kessie from the corner!

Simon Adingra whips the ball in perfectly, for Kessie to head into the ground and into the net!

Adingra’s deep, driven corner tempted Nwabali from his line. He didn’t get there and could only push Kessie’s downward header into the net as he tried to recover his ground.

That is what they have deserved, and Didier Drogba leads the celebrations for the Cote d’Ivoire faithful!

https://twitter.com/pubitysport/status/1756791986990854644?s=20

(Watch Video) Troost-Ekong scores! 38’… Nigeria 1-0 Ivory Coast

It is that man again! William Troost-Ekong!

The Super Eagles captain gave Nigeria the lead with their first shot on target!

A corner from the left was headed up in the air towards the far post. Troost-Ekong got the run on Aurier, leapt above him and powered a looping header over Fofana.

AFCON star rejects Premier League move

Sebastien Haller has rejected a return to the Premier League after Fulham enquired about the Borussia Dortmund striker.

According to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, the Londoners were given the green light by the Bundesliga giants to speak to the Ivorian last night.

However, the 29-year-old is currently focused on Afcon with his country facing a quarter-final tie against Mali on Saturday, and has no desire to to discuss a deadline day move.

Haller – once West Ham’s record signing – has yet to find the net in the Bundesliga this season following his recovery from testicular cancer.

(Watch Highlights) Ivory Coast dump reigning champions Senegal out of AFCON

Hosts Ivory Coast eliminated reigning champions Senegal in a penalty shootout to book their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals following a 1-1 draw after extra time in Yamoussoukro.

Franck Kessie, who had scored from the spot four minutes from the end of normal time, converted the winning penalty to seal an extraordinary victory for the hosts, who redeemed themselves after a humiliating group-stage display which culminated in two defeats.

Senegal had made a dream start when Habib Diallo struck in the fourth minute from a Sadio Mane cross.

Ivory Coast, who squeezed into the last 16 as one of the best third-placed teams from the group phase, grew into the match against The Teranga Lions, despite going behind so early.

Diallo, a forward for Saudi Pro League club Al Shabab, profited when Mane swung in an impeccable delivery from the left, bringing the ball down with his chest and firing it into the roof of the net to open the scoring.

Mane was lucky to escape with a caution for a rash challenge five minutes later on Nottingham Forest midfielder Ibrahim Sangare, who had to be stretchered off for treatment before coming back on.

The Elephants began to settle into the game after such a frenetic start, enjoying far more of the first-half possession and pushing for an equaliser, with Seko Fofana and Oumar Diakite both looking lively.

Senegal started the second half as they had the first, Ismaila Sarr’s shot across goal forcing a fingertip save from the diving Yahia Fofana.

Winger Sarr was again at the heart of the action when he felt he had been brought down in the box by Odilon Kossounou, with a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check deciding there was not enough contact for a penalty to be given.

Ivory Coast’s interim coach Emerse Fae, an emergency appointment following the dismissal of Jean-Louis Gasset last week, brought on forward Sebastian Haller and midfielder Frank Kessie – and the latter made an immediate impact, having a header saved by Edouard Mendy before failing to capitalise on the rebound.

Another substitute, former Arsenal man Nicolas Pepe, also brought a new energy to the hosts, running in behind on two occasions, only to shoot straight at Mendy.

And Pepe proved instrumental in Ivory Coast’s equaliser when he was brought down by Mendy in the box.

Gabonese referee Pierre Atcho initially waved off appeals for a penalty, much to the frustration of the home fans and players.

VAR sent Atcho to the monitor – with Senegal coach Aliou Cisse and one of his assistants picking up a yellow card for their protestations.

Atcho reversed his decision, awarding a spot-kick to Ivory Coast which Kessie duly despatched to Mendy’s left, sending the Charles Konan Banny de Yamoussoukro Stadium into raptures.

After an absorbing 90 minutes, the first period of extra-time also proved eventful.

Ivory Coast, who had restored their self-respect by pushing the holders, saw two glorious chances go awry, Brighton winger Simon Adringa and Forest’s Serge Aurier both missing the target.

At the other end, Mane latched onto a cross to force an instinctive save from Fofana with a shot.

Mane and Pepe were again involved in half-chances in the second period of extra-time but no winner could be found, with Haller, who has been on the comeback trail following an injury, also missing when given a sniff of goal during the dying seconds.

It was left to a penalty shootout to determine whether Senegal – the only side at this Nations Cup to have won all three of their group games – or Ivory Coast, who had never lost three matches in a row at a single tournament, would progress to the quarter-finals.

Kalidou Koulibaly and Pape Matar Sarr both scored their penalties, with Nicolas Pepe and Christian Kouame matching their opponents.

But a miss from Moussa Niakhate handed Ivory Coast the advantage. Sebastien Haller and captain Serge Aurier then scored theirs as much of the crowd willed them on.

Mane kept the shootout alive, blasting his finish past Fofana. But up stepped Kessie to deliver the ultimate redemption for the host nation, who march on to the quarter-finals.

Photo Credit: CAF_Online/ X

AFCON: Ivory Coast surrender three points to Nigeria (Match Report & Player Ratings)

William Troost-Ekong’s penalty secured victory for Nigeria against hosts Ivory Coast and swung Group A back in the Super Eagles’ favour at the Africa Cup of Nations.

After drawing their opening game against Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria were good value for this narrow victory, although it only came after a debatable second-half penalty when Ousmane Diomande was deemed to have clipped Victor Osimhen.
Captain Troost-Ekong stepped up to score from the spot, and Nigeria were able to then keep Ivory Coast at bay and leapfrog them in the table into second.

Roared on by a raucous crowd, the Ivorians pushed hard for an equaliser but failed to create a clear chance against a solid Super Eagles defence.

Victor Osimhen’s best opportunity came after just eight minutes when he latched on to a pass from Samuel Chukwueze but the Napoli forward failed to keep a bouncing ball down, sending his effort high over the bar.

Less than a minute later, Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali was quickly off his line to use his body to make a point-blank save from Christian Kouame.

Ivorian defender Evan Ndicka then failed to connect properly with a half-volley from near the penalty spot, allowing Nwabali to comfortably gather.

After the fast start, the pace dwindled as the first half wore on, and the deadlock was ultimately broken early in the second period after VAR played its hand.

Diomande’s challenge on Osimhen after 51 minutes was fractionally late, catching the African player of the year and sending him to the turf.

With Osimhen down, the game carried on for around one minute until Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal was called over to review the challenge on the monitor.

Having changed his decision, Super Eagles captain Troost-Ekong was the surprise choice to assume penalties duties, with the former Watford defender choosing power over placement to beat Yahia Fofana.

The tournament hosts failed to find a way back into the game, with Seko Fofana and Franck Kessie blazing efforts well off target and Ndicka sending a header from a free-kick wide.

The Elephants’ first ever defeat against Nigeria on home soil means Ivory Coast become the first host nation to lose an Afcon group game in 18 fixtures going back to 2012.

Equatorial Guinea remain top and face Ivory Coast on Monday, at the same time Nigeria will fancy their chances against Guinea-Bissau.

With third perhaps enough to qualify for the knockouts, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and Nigeria can all still progress – but defeat on Thursday certainly ramps up the pressure on the hosts heading into those final round of Group A fixtures.

PLAYER RATINGS
Ivory Coast: Y. Fofana 6; Ndicka 6, Diomande 6, Konan 6; S. Fofana 5, Aurier 5, Sangare 5, Kessie 5, Kouame 6, Boga 5, Krasso 5. Subs: Singo 6, Bamba 6, Pepe 6, Diakite n/a, Konate n/a.

Nigeria: Nwabali 7, Aina 6, Troost-Ekong 7, Ajayi 7, Bassey 8, Zaidu 7, Onyeka 7, Iwobi 7, Lookman 7, Chukwueze 7, Osimhen 6. Subs: Simon 6, Osayi 6, Omeruo n/a, Onuachu n/a.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH – CALVIN BASSEY (NIGERIA)
A tough call with a handful of deserving candidates, including Ademola Lookman and match-winner Troost-Ekong, but we’ll give it to Fulham’s Calvin Bassey. The defender was a rock for Nigeria, putting in a proper shift and clearly enjoying the battle.

Photo Credit: CAF_Online

AFCON: Abdijan in festive mood as Ivorian government declares public holiday for Ivory Coast-Nigeria clash

The streets of Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan were agog on Wednesday as fans discussed and anticipated the epic clash between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and host Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday.

The match is the second for both teams in Group A of the ongoing AFCON 2023.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports, via Vanguard newspaper, that Ivorian fans draped in their orange, white, and green flags were seen dancing, while joints blare music and big screens dot all corners of the city.

Meanwhile, the Ivorian government has declared a public holiday for students as the country plays Nigeria in their second match of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), according to Nigeria Info.

Schools have passed this information to parents, as seen by a notice issued by the International English School, Abidjan, while public workers would work half-day.

The Serge Aurier-led Elephants are occupying the topspot in the group after defeating Guinea Bissau 2-0 in their opening game, while the Super Eagles’s match against Equitoria Guinea ended in 1-1 draw.