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Ivory Coast AFCON final coach Fae Yahoo Sports

Ivory Coast coach calls AFCON final "like a dream" after beating DR Congo. Team's remarkable turnaround led by interim coach.

Ivory Coast coach Emerse Fae expressed his team's accomplishment in advancing to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations as "like a dream" following the hosts' 1-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last-four encounter on Wednesday.

The only goal of the game was scored by Sebastien Haller in the 65th minute at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium, securing Ivory Coast's spot in Sunday's final against Nigeria.

This turnaround is quite remarkable for the Elephants, who were on the verge of elimination after a 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea at the same stadium in their final group match on January 22.

"We are happy, we're really moved. It's like a dream, when you go back two weeks to the defeat here against Equatorial Guinea," said Fae.

"It was hard then to imagine that we might qualify for the final of our own AFCON."

The defeat against Equatorial Guinea was Ivory Coast's most significant home loss, and they appeared certain to be eliminated in the first round. However, they managed to scrape through as the last of the four best third-placed teams thanks to Morocco's victory in their last group game against Zambia.

Following the Equatorial Guinea debacle, Coach Jean-Louis Gasset was sacked, and Fae, who had been an assistant, was promoted to the role of interim coach.

Under his leadership, Ivory Coast defeated holders Senegal on penalties in the last 16, and then came from behind to beat Mali in extra time in the quarter-finals, despite playing most of that match with 10 men.

Midfielder Franck Kessie, named man of the match against DR Congo, emphasized the importance of belief in football, stating, "As long as you still have a five or 10 percent chance you need to keep believing, because that is what makes football beautiful."

After the Morocco result, the team knew they had qualified, which gave them the strength and boost they needed. They were determined not to do worse than in the first round, and Kessie stressed the importance of continuing their momentum.

The final on Sunday will be a rematch of the group game between Ivory Coast and Nigeria on January 18, which the Super Eagles won 1-0.

Meanwhile, DR Congo will compete in a third-place play-off in Abidjan on Saturday against South Africa. Despite the disappointment of missing out on the final, their coach, Sebastien Desabre, reflected positively on the tournament, emphasizing the extraordinary spirit in the team and their determination to remobilize quickly.

If they beat South Africa, they will take the bronze medal, matching their performances in 1998 and 2015, and Desabre expressed their desire to secure a medal, highlighting their competitive spirit and determination.

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