Beating Nigeria to win AFCON 2023 was 'destiny' - Ivory Coast star Haller revels in tournament glory

Sebastien Haller with the AFCON 2023 trophy | The Independent

Beating Nigeria to win AFCON 2023 was 'destiny' - Ivory Coast star Haller revels in tournament glory

Ayoola Kelechi 09:43 - 21.03.2024

2023 AFCON final goalscorer Sebastien Haller has revealed the teams surprise at being able to lift the trophy on home soil

Ivorian striker Sebastien Haller has revealed the mindset of the Elephants during their tumultuous but ultimately victorious journey in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ivory Coast's road to AFCON glory was far from smooth sailing. Amidst the trials and tribulations, Haller emerged as a beacon of hope, guiding his team through the turbulent waters of the tournament to claim ultimate victory.

A nightmare unfolds for Ivory Coast

The early stages of the tournament painted a bleak picture for Ivory Coast. Despite an auspicious start with a victory in their opening group game, defeats to Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea threatened to derail their aspirations.

Reflecting on the tumultuous period, Haller expressed to The Athletic the despair that gripped the team: "It was a nightmare. You feel like nothing is working as you want. It was such a waste of energy and time for a lot of people and money for some as well. It was a dream that was going away."

Seizing second chances

Miraculously, Ivory Coast found a lifeline through Morocco's victory over Zambia, propelling them into the knockout stages as one of the best third-placed teams. Despite the managerial upheaval that ensued, the team rallied under the leadership of Emerse Fae, determined to seize their second chance.

Haller emphasized the team's sense of duty amidst the chaos: "It was tough but we had no time to be emotional. We had a responsibility and had to show we deserved a second chance."

Triumph against the odds

Ivory Coast's journey continued to be fraught with peril, epitomized by their dramatic comeback victory against Senegal and a hard-fought battle against Mali. Yet, it was in the final showdown against Nigeria that destiny smiled upon them.

In a thrilling encounter where the odds seemed stacked against them, Haller etched his name into the annals of history with a moment of brilliance, securing victory for Ivory Coast. Describing the triumph as "more than a fairytale," Fae captured the essence of their remarkable journey.

Haller, in awe of the inexplicable turn of events, remarked, "It’s just destiny. We can try to explain it but the truth is that we don’t control anything."

In the face of adversity, Ivory Coast emerged victorious, testament to their resilience, determination, and unwavering belief in the power of destiny.

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