AFCON 2023: Haller Fires Host Cote d’Ivoire Into Final

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Sebastien Haller scored the winning goal as 2023 AFCON hosts Ivory Coast beat DR Congo to set up a final meeting with Nigeria. The only goal of a cagey contest in Abidjan came in the 65th minute when Haller’s volley bounced down into the ground and up over the Leopards goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi.

The Borussia Dortmund striker should have opened the scoring just before the break with an unmarked header, while he also missed a chance to double the lead when sending a lob narrowly wide.

DR Congo on the other hand, did not look like getting a late equaliser; although Meschack Elia sent a volley wide of the left-hand upright and Simon Banza then fired well over in injury time. Ivory Coast had sacked its head coach Jean-Louis Gasset before scraping through the group stage, and had needed late goals against both Senegal and Mali to progress to the last four.

But interim boss Emerse Fae now has a chance to guide the Elephants to a third continental title, adding to triumphs in 1992 and 2015, when they face three-time winners Nigeria in Abidjan on Sunday (20:00 GMT).

Ivory Coast becomes the first host to reach an Afcon final since Egypt in 2006 – with the Pharaohs also the most recent side to lift the trophy on home soil that year. After a tournament of underdog success and surprise results, Ivory Coast fans can now look forward to a heavyweight clash with Nigeria following a path through the finals, which has already involved several dramatic twists and turns.

It could also cap a remarkable journey for Fae, the 40-year-old former Nantes, Reading and Nice midfielder, who could win Africa’s most prestigious trophy in just his fourth game in charge of his country.

 

 

 

 

 

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