Nigeria and Ivory Coast will meet for the second time in the AFCON Cup

The AFCON Cup of Nations has not been short of high-level soccer drama.

And look no further than the path that Nigeria and host nation Ivory Coast took to get to Sunday’s final.

Nigeria reached the final after a chaotic semifinal win over South Africa that included a goal overturned by VAR, two penalty-kick goals (including a 90th-minute equalizer by South Africa), a red card and ultimately a penalty shootout.

Ivory Coast advanced to the final with a far less drama-filled 1-0 semifinal win over the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, getting to that point took some work/chaos. Twice the Ivory Coast’s quarterfinal opponent, Mali, likely thought they were advancing to the semis, only to be thwarted by the Elephants.

Sporting a 1-0 lead late and with Ivory Coast down a player due to a red card, Mali was mere ticks of the clock away from upsetting the hosts and advancing.

Instead, Ivory Coast equalized in the 90th minute, forced extra time and had a second player red-carded, only to prevail 2-1 with a goal in stoppage time.

Nigeria and Ivory Coast will meet for the second time in the AFCON Cup of Nations tournament, with the Super Eagles winning a group stage game 1-0.

Nigeria are three-time winners of the AFCON Cup of Nations, but it’s been more than a decade since the Super Eagles last won the tournament (2013).

Nigeria has been a FIFA World Cup fixture of late, qualifying for six of the last eight tournaments (though missing out on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar). Nigeria advanced to the Round of 16 three times at the World Cup (1994, 1998, 2014), the furthest they’ve advanced in the tournament.

Ivory Coast are two-time winners of the AFCON Cup of Nations (1992 and 2015), and qualified for three FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014) but have never advanced out of the group stage.