Nigeria may not have won the 2023 AFCON title, but they managed to reach some tournament milestones in the final against Ivory Coast
The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final was a rollercoaster of emotions for the Nigerian Super Eagles and their fans worldwide.
Despite a valiant effort and leading during the match, Nigeria ultimately succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Ivory Coast. However, the match was not just a tale of what might have been; it was also a historic event where several records were set by the Nigerian team and its standout players, particularly vice-captain William Troost-Ekong.
1) William Troost-Ekong Makes AFCON History
Troost-Ekong’s performance throughout the tournament was nothing short of spectacular, culminating in a remarkable achievement during the final. By scoring the opener against Ivory Coast, Troost-Ekong took his goal tally to three for the 2023 edition, reaching a personal total of five goals in the competition.
This milestone saw him surpass Nigerian football legend Stephen Keshi, setting a new benchmark for goals scored by a Nigerian defender in the history of the tournament. This record not only highlights Troost-Ekong’s scoring ability but also his pivotal role in Nigeria’s journey to the final.
2) Five AFCON Final Losses
The 2023 final marked a less desirable record for the Nigerian national team, as it was their fifth loss in an AFCON final. Previous losses came in the years 1984, 1988, 1990, and 2000.
This record is a testament to Nigeria’s consistency and ability to compete at the highest levels in African football, regularly reaching the final stage. However, it also underscores the heartbreak of falling just short of the ultimate continental glory on several occasions.
3) Ekong’s AFCON 2023 Heroics
William Troost-Ekong’s contributions to the Super Eagles’ campaign were further immortalized as he became the first defender/full-back to score three goals in the same edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations since Opta began collecting this data in 2010.
His exceptional goal-scoring feat from the defensive line is a rare accomplishment, showcasing his versatility and offensive mindset. Additionally, being named the Player of the Tournament capped off an individually successful tournament for Troost-Ekong, even if the team could not secure the title.
While the Super Eagles may not have clinched the AFCON 2023 title, the tournament was a showcase of resilience, talent, and historic achievements for the Nigerian team. William Troost-Ekong’s record-setting performances have solidified his place in AFCON history, and the team’s journey to the final has once again demonstrated Nigeria’s status as a powerhouse of African football. The records set in the 2023 edition will be remembered as milestones in the annals of Nigerian and African football, inspiring future generations to aim even higher.