Nigerians have said that the Super Eagles team reserved their worse performance for the most important game despite raising hopes with their run during the tournament, this is following the 2-1 loss against hosts Ivory Coast in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
After captain William Troost-Ekong gave Nigeria a lead into the break with a header in the 37th minute, the hosts fought back in the second half, producing two goals courtesy of Frank Kessie and Sebastien Haller to win their third title.
Kessie found the equaliser in the 61st minute with a header while Haller, scored the winner and his second goal of the tournament with a poke in between Nigerian defenders with nine minutes left to play.
Despite the final changes made by coach Jose Peseiro, the Eagles couldn’t find the inspiration to come back into the game, missing the chance to win a fourth AFCON title.
“Ivory Coast fully deserve this win. Unfortunately, the Super Eagles saved their worst performance for the final,” journalist, Nurudeen Obalaola remarked.
Another journalist, Wale Agbede also said, “Ivory Coast have been poor in this tournament, yet we somehow made them look so good. Letting them take control of the midfield and also cross at will.”
“Lookman totally off, Iwobi is like he’s not there, Zaidu calamity even Aina is a shadow of himself. This parking the bus was always going to backfire,” A broadcast journalist, Benjamin Okenna also noted.
A brand and marketing enthusiast, Seun Odegbami also said the Eagles rode on luck throughout the tournament.
“Now I can finally speak my mind about the Super Eagles. The fact that the teams they played with in the group stage were fairly good was an advantage for us. If they played the tougher teams first, we wouldn’t have entered the quarter-finals.”
It’s the fifth AFCON final Nigeria will lose, and this year’s loss is similar to the 1984 edition, also in Ivory Coast when the Eagles were beaten 3-1 in the final by Cameroon.
Having reached the final eight times, Nigeria have won only three AFCON titles thanks to successes in 1980, 1994 and 2013. Despite Nigeria having the most podium finishes in the history of the tournament, they have not been able to make it count over the years, having also finished third on eight occasions.