African Cup of Nations Final Preview

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Ivory Coast will go into this match with home advantage, despite being listed as the ‘away’ team for this match. The final is being held in Abidjan, in the Stade Olympique Ouattara, a 60,000 capacity arena that will be doing its best to push the Ivory Coast on to glory in the African Cup of Nations.

That being said, Nigeria have already managed to beat Ivory Coast at this stadium, winning 1-0 less than a month ago. This match sees a meeting of two teams that contested the early stages of the tournament in the same group, Group A, although neither of them actually won the group. That honour went to Equatorial Guinea, who just pipped Nigeria to the top spot with a better goal difference. Ivory Coast on the other hand, only won one of their group matches and ended the group stage in third place with three points, so they might consider themselves somewhat lucky to be in this final. 

Nigeria – The favourites

Nigeria go into this match as slight favourites based on their form throughout the tournament. They managed five consecutive games without conceding a goal from open play, something which emphasises the fact that their success is based on solid, organised defending. This is their first appearance in a final since they won it in 2013 and they required a penalty shootout to get the better of South Africa in the semi-final. In the earlier knockout rounds they got the better of Angola and Cameroon and this time they will be hoping to go one better than the last time they reached a final in Ivory Coast, where they ended up as runners up. 

Ivory Coast – The Hosts

Ivory Coast have had a strange tournament, getting off to a very disappointing start as the host nation and struggling to make it through to the group stage. Despite that, they somehow find themselves in the final and will be hoping to take advantage of their good fortune to claim the much coveted crown. The start of their tournament was so poor that they actually fired their manager, Jean Louis Gasset, at the end of the group stages. They did manage to scrape through, claiming the final spot in the last 16. This stroke of luck seems to have galvanised them and they went on to beat Senegal, followed by Mali and DR Congo. This will be Ivory Coast’s first appearance in the final AFCON final since their last win in 2015. This is actually the first time that a host nation has made it to the final since Egypt managed to do so in 2006.


This is a very balanced encounter on paper, with not much to choose between the two. Nigeria have certainly had the better tournament so far and will go into this as slight favourites but home advantage could count for a lot in such an important final. Home nations have a 10-3 win record in AFCON finals, so it is worth keeping that in mind. 

We probably shouldn’t expect many goals in this matchup, as eleven of the twelve matches featuring these two teams in this tournament have seen under 2.5 goals scored, in normal time. Picking a 1-0 winner for either side or for the match to be decided on penalties might be the way to go. 

Nigeria will likely look to Victor Osimhen to power them forward, hold up the ball and provide a significant goal threat, with fellow Serie A player Ademola Lookman also likely to be a threat. The Ivory Coast will be hoping that Sebastien Haller can build on his winning goal in the semi-final with the likes of Franck Kessie and Max Gradel also likely to be important. 

Nigeria have six wins from the last ten meetings between these two teams with Ivory Coast winning the other four. The last three meetings have all been narrow 1-0 wins and four of the last ten meetings have seen three or more goals scored. 

Last updated: 09.02.2024