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Thrilling Moments 2023 AFCON Opinion Nigeria

Cote d'Ivoire won the Africa Cup of Nations with an incredible comeback. Moroccan player received two red cards. Several Premier League stars disappointed.

The 34th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations was an electrifying tournament, filled with drama, surprises, and a series of incredible performances that captivated audiences around the world. Hosts Cote d'Ivoire emerged victorious, defeating the Super Eagles 2-1 in a thrilling final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium. The tournament showcased an array of thrilling moments, from a flurry of goals to a Moroccan player receiving two red cards, and a remarkable comeback by Ivory Coast, who clinched victory in Sunday's final despite two group stage defeats.

The tournament was marked by several standout performances, with some teams exceeding expectations and others failing to live up to their potential. Quarter-finalists Angola were a revelation, winning three matches in a row under coach Pedro Goncalves, while AFCON-winning coach Djamel Belmadi was fired after Algeria's disappointing performance. Champions Ivory Coast started the final with a diverse squad, featuring players from Saudi Arabia, England, Germany, Turkey, France, and Italy. The energy-sapping conditions forced water breaks in each match, with many games kicking off in sweltering heat and high humidity.

The tournament also saw several Premier League stars making their mark, with Ademola Lookman playing a key role as eventual runners-up Nigeria reached an eighth AFCON final. Reigning African Player of the Year Victor Osimhen may have scored only once for Nigeria, but his work rate and constant harrying of defenders won rave reviews. However, some Premier League players, including Yves Bissouma of Mali and Dango Ouattara of Burkina Faso, did not have the expected impact due to illness and injury.

There were also several upsets, with seven of the FIFA top 10-ranked African teams failing to reach the quarter-finals. Former champions Tunisia were among the biggest disappointments, failing to win and scoring only once, leading to coach Jalel Kadri quitting after a first-round exit. South Africa, whose starting line-ups included nine local-based players, exceeded expectations under Belgian coach Hugo Broos by finishing third.

The tournament was not without controversy, as several coaches were sacked for poor results or controversial comments. Rui Vitoria of Egypt was among seven coaches sacked, as the Pharaohs failed to win any of their four group and knockout matches. Despite the challenges and setbacks, the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations was a thrilling and unforgettable tournament, showcasing the best of African football and leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next edition.

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