AFCON 2023 Final: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Combined XI
Two sides are left to battle it out for the AFCON 2023 title
It has been a roller coaster tournament. The Africa Cup of Nations 2023 is nearing its culmination. Two teams that have managed to reach the final stage are – the Nigeria national football team and the Ivory Coast national football team.
Nigeria kickstarted their AFCON run with a draw against Equatorial Guinea. And since then the Super Eagles have only made progressions. This has led them to the final battle against the host nation, Ivory Coast.
The Elephants also had started the journey in Group A along with Nigeria. Although their journey wasn’t that strong, they managed to be at the right place at the right time. If in the near future, both West African nations decide to merge, this could be their exciting lineup.
GK: Stanley Nwabali (Nigeria)
Interestingly the goalkeeper’s first international cap came back in 2021 and the second one in 2024, exactly before the tournament. Both were in friendly games. Later Nwabali took charge of the AFCON games without any friction. Four clean sheets in six games in the tournament.
RCB: Semi Ajayi (Nigeria)
The three-man defence starts with West Brom‘s Semi Ajayi. The centre-back so far has played every minute possible for the Super Eagles. He even was present for the whole 120 minutes against South Africa in the semi-finals. Funnily enough, Ajayi’s good performances were even recognised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) who did a drug test on him after the semi-final.
CB: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
Nigeria’s captain William Troost-Ekong will be the main rock in between the defence line. Troost-Ekong has displayed his leadership qualities throughout the tournament. The 30-year-old has also stepped up on two different occasions to score a penalty even in high-pressure situations. The player also found the back of the net against Bafana Bafana in the penalty shootout.
LCB: Calvin Bassey (Nigeria)
Choosing an all-Nigerian lineup for the defence was a no-brainer. We have seen throughout the 2023 AFCON just how good they are at keeping the ball away from their goalline. Calvin Bassey was present in the four clean sheets in six games in the tournament.
RM: Bright Osayi-Samuel (Nigeria)
One more player who was ever present in the semi-final win. Bright Osayi-Samuel played the full 120 minutes. The 26-year-old could be seen playing in the finals under head coach José Peseiro.
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CM: Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast)
The former FC Barcelona midfielder will provide both defensive solidarity and passing options. The 27-year-old has a goal and an assist in the tournament. Undoubtedly Franck Kessié will be in the final plans for current head coach Emerse Faé.
CM: Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)
Frank Onyeka will partner Kessié in the central midfield. The player has come a long way. We can even see that from his words, “I used to play barefoot on concrete; now I can put on any shoes I want”. Brentford‘s Onyeka is known for his tackling abilities and can play as a good number 6.
LM: Seko Fofana (Ivory Coast)
Born in Paris, France, Seko Fofana even played until the U19 level of the French national team. His senior team involvement though came in the colours of Ivory Coast. Fofana has a goal and an assist in this Côte d’Ivoire-based tournament.
RW: Simon Adingra (Ivory Coast)
At the club level, Simon Adingra plays for the Brighton & Hove Albion side in the Premier League. The winger came in for the tournament with a hamstring injury lingering on him. Against Mali, in the quarter-finals, Adingra came on for Jean Michaël Seri in the 86-minute mark. And few minutes later, his effort on goal forced the game to extra time where they eventually won.
ST: Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)
Do you know why Nigeria have a frightening attack? They have ‘Victor Osimhen’. Osimhen may have found the back of the net just once on matchday 1 but the player keeps contributing elsewhere. The two penalties that William Troost-Ekong scored were for the fact that Osimhen was brought down in the box. The Napoli forward had also set up Ademola Lookman perfectly for the opening goal against Cameroon in the Round of 16.
LW: Ademola Lookman (Nigeria)
The winger who can also play as a second striker has been a star performer in the knockouts. Atalanta‘s Ademola Lookman will complete the attacking setup of this combined XI. The Super Eagles progressed from the Round of 16 and quarter-finals all thanks to goals from Lookman and no one else.
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