Teamwork makes the dream work

Ivory Coast kings of AFCON, Nigeria rue Peseiro’s selections

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Ivory Coast have received the Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-1 victory over Nigeria on the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Sunday.

Sébastien Haller scored the profitable aim for the hosts within the 81st minute with an instinctive end after wonderful work from Simon Adingra on the wing.

ESPN analysts Ed Dove and Colin Udoh break down the match from the views of the victorious Les Éléphants and the vanquished Tremendous Eagles.

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IVORY COAST

If ever there really was an acceptable time to have fun a real footballing fairytale, Ivory Coast’s come-from-behind victory over Nigeria in Sunday’s AFCON remaining could be it.

It was Haller, one 12 months on from returning to soccer after beating most cancers, who scored the 81st-minute winner in entrance of an electrical Stade Alassane Ouattara within the Abidjan suburb of Ebimpé to clinch the Elephants’ third ever continental crown, and their first since 2015.

Within the final three weeks, the host nation have run the last word gamut of event feelings.

They had been demoralised on residence soil by Equatorial Guinea, dismissed their head coach, solely certified for the knockouts as one of many 4 “fortunate losers” among the many third-placed groups, eradicated holders Senegal on penalties after a late equaliser, ousted Mali within the 122nd minute regardless of taking part in with 10 males for properly over an hour, and now carry Africa’s premier sporting title in entrance of their adoring public.

This is identical public, after all, who booed them remorselessly, even hurled projectiles on the gamers in disgust, after that 4-0 mauling by Equatorial Guinea. Nonetheless, now they serenaded their heroes — as they did towards Mali — with an impromptu a cappella rendition of “L’Abidjanaise,” the nation’s nationwide anthem, to provide Les Éléphants a lift from the terraces after William Troost-Ekong’s first-half header had given Nigeria the lead.

With momentum on their facet, this Ivorian facet – having fun with a brand new lease of life underneath interim head coach Emerse Faé, appointed after that group-stage rout — really feel like they’re able to something, and when Franck Kessié equalised from a nook, the hosts grew whereas their opponents steadily ran out of concepts.

In contrast to earlier within the event, Les Éléphants had been comfortably the higher workforce right here, with Jean-Michael Seri, specifically, controlling issues from the guts of the midfield because the hosts had been allowed to say themselves by their timid Nigeria counterparts.

Faé deserves credit score for the daring personnel selections he is taken earlier within the marketing campaign — there was no place for Nicolas Pépé, Jérémie Boga or Jonathan Bamba through the remaining — and his determination to take away Max Gradel and Sèrge Aurier (with 200 caps between them) with 20 minutes to play was one other hanging determination by the rookie coach.

It paid off, because the Ivorians’ affect grew — they registered 18 pictures to Nigeria’s 5, with over 62% possession — and the muscular Seko Fofana and Kessié gave the guests little scope for management or expression.

Particular point out should go to Brighton & Hove Albion winger Adingra who, with solely 5 caps to his identify earlier than the event, must be recognised because the AFCON’s breakout star. He was underused by Jean Louis Gasset — the workforce’s unique head coach — and was solely thrown on as a late sub through the Equatorial Guinea defeat.

Faé has had no such qualms about throwing Adingra into the fray and it was the 22-year-old who scored the Ninetieth-minute equaliser towards Mali, and it was his advantageous supply that arrange each Kessié after which Haller as final victory was secured. The wideman’s vibrant exhibiting contributed to Ola Aina‘s jittery show, as Adingra served discover that he might be Africa’s subsequent huge factor. — Dove

NIGERIA

What a day for Nigeria to decide on to have a foul day on the workplace. The Tremendous Eagles try and win their fourth Africa Cup of Nations title got here to a grinding halt towards hosts Ivory Coast on Sunday.

Dwell by the sword, die by the sword. Organized, however conservative defensive soccer constructed on excessive depth urgent and fast counter-attacks took the Tremendous Eagles to the brink o that fourth crown, however ultimately, it was the Achilles heel that heralded their downfall.

This, added to educate José Peseiro’s reluctance to make use of his full squad and sticking to the identical set of gamers all event lengthy, led to some laggy legs that simply couldn’t address Les Éléphants’ brisker legs and extra expansive attacking strategy.

Protection has taken Peseiro’s Tremendous Eagles, from whom not a lot was anticipated after they left for the event, to the ultimate however, ultimately, when Peseiro wanted to flip issues round and go offensive, he waited too lengthy and it proved deadly.

Nigeria’s wait to have gamers win a number of AFCON titles continues — Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo would have been the primary if the workforce had not fallen quick.

Peseiro, who was on the cusp of creating historical past as the primary Portuguese to win the AFCON title, made two adjustments to the beginning lineup for this remaining. Zaidu Sanusi, whose absence was felt within the semifinal towards South Africa, was restored to the beginning lineup. A much less understandable determination was Samuel Chukwueze forward of Moses Simon. The Nantes man has began all earlier video games, providing not simply offensive risk, however defensive cowl for the wing-backs. His absence left Aina uncovered to continually being run ragged by Adingra with little to no help.

As soon as once more, and as he has carried out all event lengthy, Peseiro waited means too lengthy to make his substitutions. Captain William Troost-Ekong gave the Tremendous Eagles the lead a lot towards the run of play, though Nigeria have by no means bothered with contesting possession all through the event, however within the aftermath of the aim, the hosts squeezed even tougher and nonetheless Peseiro endured.

Ultimately, this inflexibility was his workforce’s downfall. The psychological exhaustion was simply as dangerous because the bodily, with an error strewn efficiency everywhere in the pitch. Calvin Bassey gave the ball away virtually on demand. Aina seemed a shadow of his fast, assured self, and Zaid Sanusi made a number of errors that went unpunished.

When the equalizer got here, it was right down to avoidable errors, they’d not have made in earlier video games. Bassey misplaced his man within the nook kick, and Sanusi, who was defending the aim line, stepped off to cowl and located himself in no man’s land. It was the identical for the winner, Aina remoted towards Adingra and permitting a cross he wouldn’t have allowed earlier.

Nigeria could be pleased with the efficiency of the workforce and each coach and gamers will return residence to plaudits after extending their document of probably the most podium finishes in AFCON historical past, taking their medal rely to 16, three greater than Egypt. However they continue to be behind arch-rivals Cameroon on 5 titles and Ghana on 4, and that can rankle. For Peseiro, whereas he could have met the goal set for him by the Nigerian Soccer Federation of reaching the semifinal, however his overly conservative strategy, which finally failed him on the line, would be the similar petard he will likely be hung by.

He won’t be fired, after all, with World Cup qualifiers taking place this 12 months, however his maintain on the job will likely be tenuous and one mistake in World Cup qualifying won’t bode properly. — Udoh

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