Hosts Ivory Coast defeated Nigeria in the final after a bumpy start to the tournament. The competition was more attractive and lucrative than ever before.
The football miracle has come true. Ivory Coast actually did it. The “Elephants” are African champions and have won the 34th Cup. It is difficult to describe the joy that swept across the country after the 2-1 final victory over Nigeria. Perhaps only football can trigger such euphoria, joy and happiness for an entire nation in Africa.
For four weeks, fans enjoyed exciting football and celebrated the tournament on the streets and in front of the TV sets. Long-time observers said it was the most beautiful and attractive Africa Cup in the history of the competition.
How close luck and tragedy can be was shown once again in the hours before the final, when the tournament narrowly avoided catastrophe. Thousands of people without tickets tried to gain access to the already completely overcrowded Alassane Ouattara Stadium in a suburb of Abidjan in a kind of storm run. The police used tear gas and rubber bullets – somehow the crowds were pushed back and then kept under control.
Of course, the players in the stadium didn’t notice anything – they were doing their job. The Ivory Coast players looked like losers early on when Nigeria’s defense chief William Troost-Ekong scored to make it 1-0 for the “Super Eagles” in the 38th minute. The Nigerians’ defense had proven to be immensely strong over the course of the tournament – they had conceded two goals in six games up to that point.
Acrobatic with the tip of your foot
But two more were to be added that evening. After a good hour, captain Franck Kessie, like Troost-Ekong, scored with a header from a corner. Nine minutes before the end of the game, it was Sebastién Haller, of all people, who acrobatically finished with his toe to make it 2-1. Both goals were prepared by young star Simon Adingra, who, like Haller, had missed the first games due to an injury.
But when it mattered, the 22-year-old from English club Brighton and Hove Albion was there. Like all of his teammates, whose performance in the knockout games is rather inadequately described as that of “Stehaufmännchen”. “We have nothing on it, but we’re through,” the players sang with laughter in the team bus after slipping into the round of 16 with more luck than ability. They kept up the self-deprecating song, got stronger and stronger and beat defending champions Senegal, secret favorites Mali and surprise team DR Congo one after the other. And in the final, the great Nigeria with its star striker, Africa’s reigning “Footballer of the Year” Victor Osimhen, could no longer stop the Ivory Coast, who had had such a bumpy start to the tournament.
The next Africa Cup of Nations is scheduled to take place in Morocco in the summer of 2025. That is how long the Ivorians will be able to enjoy their role as “kings of the continent”. Football undoubtedly has this status in Africa.
Translating the enthusiasm for this sport into face value – the African Football Association Caf had failed at this task for decades. Again and again, too much money ended up in private pockets instead of in the development of infrastructure and organization. However, since the South African Patrice Motsepe took over the business in March 2021, things have picked up momentum here too. The billionaire entrepreneur sought the proximity and contacts of the world football association Fifa.
Saudi Arabian sponsors
Many observers even go so far as to claim that FIFA has taken over the Caf’s business. The fact is: Since then, the ruble has also been rolling at the cafe. Or should we say: the Saudi Riyal? There are quite a few Saudi Arabian sponsors and investors who are pouring a lot of money into African football these days. The desert state is finally on a promotional tour for the 2030 World Cup.
The Caf probably doesn’t care about the motives, what is more important to it is its own growth rates, which people like to report on. For example, that the association’s income increased by 17 percent in 2023. Investments in the development of football on the continent even increased by 25 percent. That doesn’t even include the tournament that just ended in Ivory Coast. There is likely to be a lot more.
The record number of 173 countries worldwide in which the final was broadcast on TV is impressive. As does the tournament’s prize money, which has increased by 40 percent. The winner Ivory Coast will receive a whopping seven million US dollars, while the losing opponent Nigeria will receive at least four million. Payments will be made gradually down to all eight quarter-finalists. After all, everyone should benefit from it. From the most beautiful Africa Cup of all time.
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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