The thrilling conclusion of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) was a showdown between the host nation, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to hosts Ivory Coast in a heartbreaking defeat, ending their AFCON 2023 trophy dreams at the Stade Alassane Ouattara on Sunday.
The Nigerian national team, led by Coach Jose Peseiro, was the favourite to win this year’s AFCON tournament after the elimination of other big African teams such as Senegal, Egypt, and Cameroon.
The Super Eagles captain, William Troost-Ekong, opened the scoring with a brilliant header in the first half. However, Frank Kessie’s header canceled the goal in the 62nd minute.
At the same time, the Dortmund striker Sebastian Haller who recently won a battle with cancer scored the winner in the 81st minute.
This marks the end of the Super Eagles hope to clinch their fourth AFCON title. The team has won only 3 titles out of 8 finals they have reached.
It has been a shocking result for Nigerian national team fans, many of whom have expressed disappointment in the results.
After the exciting game, Intel Region Sport has identified four crucial factors that contributed to Nigeria’s loss.
Here are 4 reasons behind Super Eagles’ loss to Ivory Coast in AFCON Final
Coach Peseiro’s tactical change
The 63-year-old coach made two changes to the team that defeated Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the semi-finals, replacing Bright-Osayi Samuel and Moses Simon with Zaidu Sanusi and forward Samuel Chukwueze.
While these changes appeared routine to many, some fans and analysts warned that they could disrupt the Super Eagles’ current success. Simon and Bright-Osayi performed admirably in the semi-finals, helping Nigeria advance to the final.
However, when the Ivorians took the lead, the Portuguese coach recognized his error and quickly substituted both players.
Nigeria’s defensive vulnerabilities
The Super Eagles’ defensive vulnerabilities, which were exposed in the semi-finals against Bafana Bafana, resurfaced against the Ivorian team.
Nigeria conceded nine shots in the game’s first 45 minutes. Unfortunately, they were unable to address this issue in the second half, as the Ivorians hit another nine shots.
Nigeria conceded two goals on the night as a result of what appeared to be poor defending.
Lack of intensity
Another obvious weakness for the Nigerian team that evening was the Super Eagles’ lack of intensity and effective pressing.
Coach Peseiro’s team’s 5-4-1 formation is known for its impressive pressing tactics. However, against the Ivorians, the Super Eagles failed to execute their anticipated pressing strategy.
This lapse enabled the hosts to control possession and plan their stunning comeback victory.
Simon Adingra’s incredible contribution
As Super Eagles fans and stakeholders reflect on the reasons for their defeat against the Ivorians, it is critical to highlight forward Simon Adingra’s significant contribution to his team’s victory.
The Brighton and Hove Albion winger bossed Nigeria’s Ola Aina on the left flank and then assisted on both of Emerse Fae’s goals, securing victory.