President Bola Tinubu has lauded the resilience and talent of the Super Eagles despite their second-place finish in the African Cup of Nations 2023 held in Cote d’Ivoire. In a statement by presidential spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, Tinubu commended the team, coach, crew, and management for their tenacious performance throughout the tournament, describing their journey as a testament to the Nigerian ‘can do’ spirit.
“Tinubu acknowledged the hurdles they consistently surpassed with steadily improving performance as they pulled through to the finals,” Ngelale stated. The President urged Nigerians to take pride in the team’s performance, emphasising that their grit, rigour, and determination had won a great victory for Nigeria in the hearts of Africa and the world.
“Let this passing event not dispirit us, but bring us together to work harder,” Tinubu expressed, adding, “My administration is here to make dreams come true.”
The final match saw hosts Côte d’Ivoire secure a dramatic 2-1 victory over Nigeria in Abidjan. Despite Nigeria’s lead at halftime, the Ivorians rallied back with Franck Kessie levelling scores in the 62nd minute. Sebastian Haller sealed the win for Côte d’Ivoire with a decisive goal in the 81st minute, clinching their third AFCON title.
William Troost-Ekong, Nigeria’s stand-in captain, received the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament award for his outstanding performance. Troost-Ekong, who scored three goals in the tournament, including a powerful header in the finals, was hailed as a “rock of Gibraltar” in the Nigerian defence.
Meanwhile, Romwen Williams of South Africa was honoured as the best goalkeeper of the tournament, while the top goal scorer award went to Emilio Nsue of Equatorial Guinea. After defeating DR Congo in the third-place match, South Africa claimed the bronze medals.
The tournament, marked by thrilling matches and unexpected outcomes, concluded with transferring the AFCON flag to Morocco, which is set to host the event in 2025. Despite the final loss, the Super Eagles’ journey has left an indelible mark, inspiring hope and pride among Nigerians and football enthusiasts worldwide.