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Cote d'Ivoire neutralise Nigeria to claim third Africa Cup of Nations trophy

Cote d’Ivoire’s three-week odyssey to redemption culminated in a coolly taken 2-1 victory on a humid Sunday night in Abidjan over regional rivals Nigeria. It furnished the hosts with a third Africa Cup of Nations title as well as the love of a nation and a warm embrace from a president who had authorised the billion or so euros to sponsor the psychedelia.

The adoration was warranted.

Cote d'Ivoire went behind to William Ekong’s header just before half-time. It came against the run-of-play.

But most of what the Ivorians have proposed during the 34th Africa Cup of Nations has operated outside the realms of logic.

Two defeats in the pool stages left the side on the verge of elimination and as they waited to discover whether they would advance to the second phase as the fourth of the four best third-placed teams, football federation bosses replaced head coach Jean-Louis Gasset with one of his assistants Emerse Faé.

"I told the players to keep doing what they had been doing in the first-half," said Faé less than a hour after his charges had been crowned continental champions.

Strategy

"The Nigerians were tiring and I said that if we could keep them chasing the ball then the spaces would open up for us to exploit."

His clairvoyance was vindicated. Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali pushed Odilon Kossounou's long-range effort out for a corner just after the hour mark.

Simon Adingra whipped the resulting kick into the box and Franck Kessie rose to power a header over Nwabali for the equaliser.

Nigeria tried to respond but their opponents - nicknamed "the zombies" - had resurfaced and regrouped.


Read more on RFI English

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