It is often said that it is difficult to beat a team twice in a tournament. Nigeria had a taste of this tale when they filed out against the host nation of the AFCON 2023, Cote d’Ivoire, in the final game of the tournament.
It was a night most Nigerians wanted to fall in their favour, but their Eagles were not a better side on the night. Indeed, flying was a tough one.
Everything began well, and the Super Eagles got a goal in the first half of the game to establish a lead.
But one goal was not enough, as they needed to have an assurance goal that would seal it for them.
Nigerians, including the former goalkeeper of the Super Eagles, Vincent Enyeama, waited for that second goal to come, but Cote d’Ivoire kept the pressure coming.
The elephants dominated the game from the first half to the end of the game, not giving the eagles a chance to fly.
In no time, in the second half of the game, they got an equaliser and a second goal a few minutes before the end of the game.
The much-awaited final of the AFCON ended with a 2-1 goal margin in favour of the host nation.
‘I deeply apologise’
For most Nigerians, their goalie, Stanley Nwabali, is the hero of the tournament.
It was demoralising for them to watch him suffer defeat in the hands of the Elepahnts.
After the game, he took to his Instagram page to apologise to Nigerians for the poor performance of the Super Eagles.
He wrote: “A disappointing and frustrating end 😞.
“I deeply apologise to Nigerians.
“I was once a fan, still a fan and I understand how it feels giving you a disappointing night.
“We take full responsibility.
“Thanks for the whole support till the end.
“I love you all NG (Nigeria)”.
Different comments trailed his post, with Vincent Enyeama, expressing his satisfaction with their performance and dropping a few encouraging words.
He wrote: “We are proud of you and the team.
“You guys did your best.
“It wasn’t just the day.
“Keep your head up and be ready for the next chapter”.
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Indeed, it was not so much of a sad night for many Nigerians. Most of them concluded that the better side of the night, Cote d’Ivoire, won the AFCON finals game.