The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) ended on Sunday, February 11, with the Super Eagles of Nigeria losing to two-time winners, The Elephants of Ivory Coast, and emerging as runner-ups. The competition which kicked off on Saturday, January 13, was a rollercoaster of emotions for participating countries and sport fans.
Now that the tournament is over, we can highlight some unforgettable moments in this edition of Africa’s biggest football competition.
Algeria’s early exit
Algeria won their first AFCON trophy when they hosted the tournament in 1990 and won again in Egypt in 2019. So, there was some expectation that the team could pull off yet another victory. Surprisingly, “The Desert Foxes” suffered an early group stage exit and never made it to the knockout rounds.
VP Kashim Shettima’s awkward dressing room visit
Vice President Kashim Shettima was in Côte d’Ivoire to support the Nigerian Super Eagles ahead of their semi-final bout against South Africa. After the team won, a viral video captured our VP standing clueless in the team’s dressing room as they exchanged hugs with iconic football legend, Kanu Nwankwo, who also came to celebrate their victory.
Nigerians had to ask if the footballers knew that their VP was in the room with them. Tearsss
Egypt’s not-so-encouraging campaign
With seven AFCON titles to their name, Egypt was one of the strongest contenders of the 2023 tournament. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite go well in the team’s favour especially because of their star player, Mohamed Salah’s injury. They were eventually eliminated by DR Congo.
Nigeria’s big headed goalkeepers
Stanley Nwabali was the man of the day when Nigeria faced South Africa. He fuelled Nigeria’s journey to the AFCON final following his impressive saves during the penalty kickoff.
Here’s another thing; his impressive run since the tournament started has had Nigerians spotting the similarities between the head shapes of previous Super Eagles goalkeepers. So, basically, if your head is not big and square-shaped, we don’t want you.
Women discovering the joy and pain of football
Nigerian women were probably not interested in AFCON when the tournament kicked off, but the semi-final match with South Africa? They were sat and pressed at the same time. Looks like they finally understand what men go through and will be more supportive going forward. AFCON, you do this one.
The insane goals
Word on the street is that the AFCON 2023 has some of the best goal catalogue in the history of the tournament, and we agree. If you missed them, just watch this compilation. You’re welcome.
Reigning champion Senegal’s defeat
The AFCON reigning champions were another strong contender this year. But Senegal’s hope of reprising their win was dashed when they suffered an unexpected defeat against Ivory Coast in the Round of 16. The match ended 1-1 in regular time, and Ivory Coast secured a 5-4 victory in the penalty shootout.
Ivory Coast’s impressive run. Or luck?
The host country’s road to victory is one for the history books. They lost their last two group-stage matches to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.
Before one could say “Cote D’Ivoire”, the Ivorian Football Association had sacked the team’s coach and replaced him with his assistant. They narrowly qualified for the round of 16 as the best loser with three points.
Maybe this made them sit up because they won their next three matches before playing against Nigeria (again) at the finals. How do you say “no gree for anybody” in French?
Psst! Have you seen our Valentine Special yet? We brought back three couples – one now with kids, one now married and the last, still best friends – to share how their relationships have evolved in the last five years. Watch the first episode below: