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Ivory Coast to face Nigeria in AFCON final after thrilling victory over Congo

In a pulsating semi-final clash, Sebastien Haller propelled the Ivory Coast into the Africa Cup of Nations final, edging out the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 1-0 victory at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium. The Ivorians, who narrowly escaped elimination in the group stage, now brace themselves for a showdown against Nigeria in Sunday’s grand finale.

Haller, making his first start after recovering from an ankle injury, conjured a moment of magic. His shot, seemingly miscued, defied gravity and sailed over Congolese goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi, nestling into the net. It was a stroke of fortune that sent the home crowd into raptures, as the Ivorian forward redeemed himself after missing a close-range header earlier in the match.

The Ivorian dominance was evident throughout the game. Franck Kessie’s thunderous left-footed strike rattled the woodwork, leaving the Congolese keeper helpless. Their revival story, from scraping through the first round as the last third-placed group finishers to this triumphant semi-final, has captivated fans. The ghosts of a 4-0 loss to minnows Equatorial Guinea and the subsequent dismissal of veteran French coach Jean Louis Gasset now fade into oblivion, replaced by the joyous celebrations echoing through the capacity-filled stadium.

In the aftermath of the victory, an elated Ivorian fan exclaimed, “It’s like a dream for us. Two weeks ago, we were far from thinking about the final. Overall, I think this win was well deserved.” The Elephants march on, fueled by determination and the belief that destiny favours the bold.


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