Ivory Coast secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over DR Congo in the second semifinal match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), setting up a thrilling finale against Nigeria on Sunday.
The winning goal was scored by Sebastien Haller in the 65th minute, whose volley bounced off the ground and past the Congolese goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi.
Despite creating several chances throughout the match, including a missed header and a lob that sailed wide, Haller’s strike was enough to seal the win for the host nation.
DR Congo struggled to create meaningful opportunities, with Meschack Elia sending a volley wide and Simon Banza firing over the bar in injury time.
The victory marks a turnaround for Ivory Coast, who had a tumultuous journey to the semis, sacking their coach Jean-Louis Gasset and relying on late goals to advance past Senegal and Mali.
Interim boss Emerse Fae will now have the opportunity to lead the Elephants to their third continental title, following previous victories in 1992 and 2015.
Nigeria, who defeated South Africa 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the first semifinal match, will provide stiff competition for Ivory Coast in the final showdown.
The Super Eagles have won the AFCON title three times, and their encounter with the Elephants promises to be an exciting climax to the tournament.
The final match between Ivory Coast and Nigeria takes place on Sunday at 20:00 GMT in Abidjan, with fans eagerly anticipating an electrifying clash between two of Africa’s football powerhouses.