While it’s still early in the tournament, the signs are aligning for the Super Eagles to potentially “do it again” in Cote d’Ivoire. On all three occasions that Nigeria has won the Nations Cup, they faced the Elephants en route to the title and did not lose.
In 1980, the game ended in a draw, but the Eagles advanced from their group and went on to defeat Algeria 3-0 in the final. In 1994, it required the brilliance of Austin Okocha and luck from the penalty spot for the Eagles to advance after a 2-2 result.
For the 2013 edition, Nigeria was considered underdogs against the Elephants team, which featured the likes of the legendary Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, but the Super Eagles soared to a 2-1 victory, led by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, against all expectations. They subsequently defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
The question now is whether history is repeating itself after the Eagles exhibited a defensive masterclass to outlast the 2023 AFCON hosts 1-0 on January 18 in Abidjan.
Nigeria 1-0 Cote d’Ivoire 18 January, 2024 Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
The hosts were the favourites, and the stadium was bedecked in orange but after an unflattering opening 1-1 result against Equatorial Guinea; the Eagles were resolute in their defending and took the victory via a goal from the penalty spot.
Nigeria 2-1 Cote d’Ivoire 3 February 2013 Royal Bafokeng Stadium, South Africa
There is no other abiding image of that encounter than Sunday Mba’s winning goal against the tournament favourites. Mba took the ball from the centre circle and, with the Elephants, backtracking took the ball past Romaric, after which his shot was deflected past Boubacar Barry, off Sol Bamba.
That match will also be remembered for Mikel Obi’s excellent performance, as he completely shackled Yaya Touré, and for Victor Moses, who was always ready to take on any player in the Cote d’Ivoire lineup.
Nigeria 2-2 Cote d’Ivoire 6 April, 1994 Stade El Menzah, Tunis, Tunisia
Ben Iroha scored one of the best-ever team goals in AFCON history when he latched on to a back-heeled pass from Austin Okocha and toe-poked past Alain Gouamene, in goal for the Elephants.
Michel Bassole, with the two goals for Cote d’Ivoire, was a thorn in the Eagle’s flesh all match, though Rashidi Yekini, of blessed memory, could have had a hat-trick in the match. He went past Gouamene but hit the side netting and then hit the post, in an end-to-end encounter, that was riveting, with close misses, goal line clearances, and x-rated tackles, from start to finish, with the penalty kicks.
Nigeria 0-0 Cote d’Ivoire 12 March, 1980 National Stadium, Surulere, Nigeria
Nigeria were the host, and the Elephants defended resolutely to get a 0-0 result. That was the only match in which the Christian Chukwu-led Eagles failed to score. The Eagles defeated Morocco 1-0 in the semi-final. Felix Owolabi scored the winning goal in the ninth minute.
In the final, the Eagles were too good for Algeria, defeating the North Africans 3-0. Segun Odegbami scored two goals; in the second and 42nd minutes and Mudashiru Lawal added the third in the 52nd minute, as Nigeria won the title for the first time.
Culled from Premium Times