The narrative of Ivory Coast’s triumph in the just-ended 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament is undeniably inspiring.
Initially, the team faced uncertainty after finishing third in Group A with just three points.
Leading the group were Nigeria, followed by Equatorial Guinea, which had only managed to win one of their three matches, suffering defeats against both Nigeria and the National Thunder.
However, the Elephants managed to scrape through to the knockout stage as one of the four best third-place finishers.
This marked the departure of Jean-Louis Gasset, the head coach, whose uninspiring leadership during the tournament led to his exit.
Emerse Faé, formerly the assistant coach, stepped up as the interim head coach, which proved to be a pivotal moment for the hosts.
Their journey gained momentum as they eliminated defending champions Senegal in the Round of 16 with a narrow 5-4 victory on penalties.
Subsequently, they faced Mali in the quarterfinals, showcasing dominance despite playing with 10 men for a significant portion of the match, eventually securing a thrilling 2-1 comeback victory in stoppage time.
Advancing to the finals, Ivory Coast secured their place by defeating DR Congo in the semi-finals.
The climax of Emerse Faé’s side’s remarkable journey unfolded on February 11, when they staged a spectacular comeback to defeat Nigeria 2-1 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.
Goals in the 62nd and 81st minutes by Frank Kessie and Sébastien Haller, respectively, propelled the hosts to a well-deserved victory on a thrilling night.
This victory marked the 12th occasion in history that a host country has clinched the CAF Africa Cup of Nations title, the first since Egypt in 2006.
It was a momentous achievement for the Elephants, adding to their previous triumphs in 1992 and 2015.