The State of Play
Under the management of Jose Peseiro, Nigeria appeared to be fulfilling the Peseiro stereotype and tradition of throwing it away from an excellent position when they had a second goal chalked off in their semi-final against South Africa in order for their opposition to take and score a late equalising penalty. The Super Eagles eventually held their nerve, though, to progress into the final after winning 4-2 on penalties.
Sebastian Haller, who began the tournament injured and then had struggled to get into the starting line-up, scored the winning goal against the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ivory Coast believed they were eliminated at the group stages earlier in the tournament so parted company with Jean-Louis Gasset but caretaker boss Emerse Fae has seen them through a remarkable run to the final.
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Since switching to the back three system with wing-backs, Nigeria have been very difficult to play against so Jose Peseiro will likely remain loyal to the formation and, with no injuries or suspensions, the starting eleven, too.
Sebastian Haller finally made a contribution to Ivory Coast’s tournament in their semi-final so he should keep his place up-front with the likelihood being that Emerse Fae also keeps an unchanged side on Sunday.
Nigeria: Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Osayi-Samuel, Onyeka, Iwobi, Aina; Simon, Osimhen, Lookman
Ivory Coast: Y. Fofana; Singo, Boly, Ndicka, Konan; Kessie, Seri, S. Fofana; Gradel, Haller, Adingra
What they Said
Jose Peseiro was full of pride for his Nigerian team and their performance in the semi-final against South Africa. “My players deserved it, the Nigerian people deserved it and The Super Eagles deserved to win.”
Emerse Fae has previously described Ivory Coast’s run to the semis as a ‘miraculous recovery’ and the former Reading midfielder said that reaching the final was ‘like a dream’ in the aftermath of their defeat of DR Congo the other day.
When and How to Watch
This match will take place at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium at 20:00 on Sunday February 11th and will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. It can also be streamed via the Sky Go app.
This year’s Africa Cup of Nations has provided a lot of drama and entertainment with the group stages in particular also providing more goals than has been the case in the past. However, as we head into the big one, the nerves and tension are expected to take over with neither team willing to risk losing. Extra-time and penalties would appear quite a likely outcome. These two met in the groups with Nigeria winning by a goal to nil via a William Troost-Ekong and a game that has the same sort of disjointed rhythm is to be expected.