Trailing for nearly thirty minutes, the Elephants overturned to claim the crown in front of their home crowd in the CAN final on Sunday.
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A little over two weeks ago, their journey was hanging in the balance. Almost eliminated, the Elephants also saw the resignation of their coach Jean-Louis Gasset. But, resilient, Ivory Coast overcame all odds until they won the Grail on Sunday 11 February. In the final, the African Cup of Nations was crowned at the expense of host country Nigeria (2-1).
However, the evening got off to a bad start (once again) as the Nigerians opened the scoring thanks to a headed goal from defender William Troost-Ekong (38th). Against the flow of the game, because the Ivorian had many chances: a strike after scissors from Max-Alain Gradel, the seventh CAN final stage to his credit, or Odilon Kosonou who was repelled by goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali, ended up a corner.
Far from being deterred by his setbacks, Côte d’Ivoire continued to push to equalize at the end thanks to Frank Casey (62nd) with a header from Simon Edingra’s cross. A minor incident for the Elephants, who have yet to score in regulation time in five CAN finals. A harbinger, perhaps, of coming salvation.
A wonderful journey
Everything changed when Sebastian Heller gave Cote d’Ivoire the advantage, with a memorable goal on top of his feet. at 81E One minute into the African Cup of Nations final, at home, when extra time seemed to be running out, a player from Borussia Dortmund appeared and gave his team the advantage (2-1). The Elephants’ third continental title after the 1992 and 2015 titles, and the first team to win at home since Egypt in 2006.
An unimaginable result a few weeks ago for a team that was humiliated at home by Equatorial Guinea (4-0) and entered the Round of 16 fourth-best third (out of 6) in the group stage. Despite a change of coach midway through the competition and the promotion of assistant Immers Fai, Côte d’Ivoire eliminated the Senegalese title holders in succession on penalties, Mali in overtime then the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the semi-finals. Finals Thanks to Sebastian Heller, again.