From the brink of group-stage elimination to the edge of glory; the 2023 AFCON hosts have overcome serious odds to get this far, but they’ve one more hurdle. Look ahead to the Africa Cup of Nations final with our Nigeria vs Ivory Coast prediction and preview.

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: AFCON Final Pre-Match Facts

  • Nigeria are favourites to lift the Africa Cup of Nations trophy according to the Opta supercomputer, doing enough to be crowned champions in 56.2% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations at the time of writing.
  • Following their 1-0 win in the group stages over Ivory Coast, Nigeria will be looking to beat the same nation twice in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament for the first time since 2006, when they beat Senegal in the group stage and third-place play-off.
  • Ivory Coast are the first host nation to reach the Africa Cup of Nations final since Egypt in 2006, who won the trophy that year on penalties against the Elephants after a 0-0 draw. Five of the last six host nations to reach the final have won the tournament, the exception being Nigeria in 2000 (drew 2-2 with Cameroon, lost 4-3 on penalties).
  • Nigeria are playing in their eighth AFCON final, only Egypt and Ghana (both 9) have played in more such games in the competition (excluding final groups). The Super Eagles have been victorious in two of their last three (1994 and 2013, lost on penalties in 2000) having lost their three beforehand (1984, 1988 and 1990).
  • All four of Ivory Coast’s previous Africa Cup of Nations finals have ended goalless and gone to penalties – they won two of those shootouts (1992 and 2015, both vs Ghana) and lost two (2006 vs Egypt and 2012 vs Zambia).
  • Ivory Coast have won 17 of their last 18 matches at the Africa Cup of Nations when scoring the first goal (D1) – their last such defeat was in the 2010 quarter-final against Algeria, losing 3-2. Nigeria, meanwhile, are unbeaten in 22 AFCON games when scoring first (W19 D3) since a 3-1 loss to Egypt in 2010.
  • The two most common scorelines in Africa Cup of Nations finals are 1-0 (eight times) and 0-0 (seven times) – since 2002, nine of the 11 finals have ended in one of those scorelines, with the other two 2-1 wins for Tunisia in 2004 and Cameroon in 2017.
  • Since the last time they conceded three goals in an Africa Cup of Nations match (1-3 vs Egypt in 2010), Nigeria have conceded just 16 goals in 28 games at AFCON (0.57 per game). Only eight of those 16 have come in open play, including one at this year’s tournament.
  • William Troost-Ekong has scored from four of his five shots on target at the Africa Cup of Nations overall for Nigeria, converting two penalties at this year’s tournament. He’s one of only four Nigerians to score two penalties at a single AFCON, along with Samuel Ojebode (1976), Jay-Jay Okocha (2004) and Victor Moses (2013), although, excluding shootouts, the last penalty scored in an AFCON final was in 1988 (Emmanuel Kundé for Cameroon vs Nigeria).
  • All six of Ivory Coast’s goals at AFCON 2023 have been scored by different players (Seko Fofana, Jean-Philippe Krasso, Franck Kessié, Simon Adingra, Oumar Diakité and Sebastien Haller). They last had more goalscorers in a single edition in 2008 (8).
  • Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen has had 24 shots at the 2023 CAF Africa Cup of Nations, although he’s only managed one goal (4% conversion rate). Since 2010, the only players to attempt more shots at a single AFCON tournament are Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan (25 shots, 1 goal in 2013) and Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar (31 shots, 8 goals in 2021).
  • Ivory Coast’s Evan Ndicka has completed 367 passes at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations – since 2010, that is a record by a player at a single tournament. In an AFCON final in that time, the most passes completed by a player is 81 by Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly in 2021 vs Egypt.
  • Ola Aina has created seven chances for Nigerian teammate Victor Osimhen at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations – it’s the most by one teammate to another at an AFCON tournament since 2013, when Burkina Faso’s Charles Kaboré created nine chances for Aristide Bancé.

Match Preview

Ivory Coast came within a hair’s breadth of elimination at the group stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations a little over two weeks ago; now, the host nation are preparing to once again go up against Nigeria in Sunday’s final at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé, highlighting a remarkable change in their fortunes.

The Elephants’ dismal showing in Group A had them on the verge of complete humiliation, to the extent that head coach Jean-Louis Gasset was incredibly dismissed mid-tournament and before the team knew if they’d be playing in the knockout stages.

As it happened, their 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau on Matchday 1 proved crucial, with the three points won from that game just enough to take them through as one of the four best third-place finishers after losing to Nigeria and then Equatorial Guinea. The latter crushed Ivory Coast 4-0 to inflict their worst-ever AFCON defeat and seal Gasset’s fate.

Equatorial Guinea vs Ivory Coast xG race Opta Analyst

Had Ghana held on to beat Mozambique later the same day, Ivory Coast would have ultimately been knocked out, but the Black Stars surrendered a 2-0 goal lead in second-half stoppage time – the margins couldn’t have been finer.

Ivory Coast’s passage through the knockouts hasn’t exactly been emphatic either, requiring extra time twice – going all the way to penalties against Senegal – before seeing off DR Congo 1-0 in the semi-finals, but the journey has taken amazingly brought them to the brink of glory under interim coach Emerse Faé.

“It’s like a dream,” he said after beating DR Congo. “When you go back two weeks to the defeat here against Equatorial Guinea, it was hard then to imagine that we might qualify for the final of our own AFCON.”

Nigeria, on the other hand, have looked strong bets to go deep into the tournament right from the start. While they haven’t blown anyone away, the Super Eagles’ progress has been built on a solid defence, conceding just two goals in six matches (excluding penalty shootouts).

After comfortably finishing ahead of Ivory Coast in second in Group A with seven points, only behind Equatorial Guinea on goal difference, Nigeria beat Cameroon 2-0 in the last 16 and Angola 1-0 in the quarter-finals, Ademola Lookman scoring all three goals across those games.

They were pushed all the way by South Africa in Wednesday’s last-four clash, with Teboho Mokoena’s 90th-minute penalty cancelling out William Troost-Ekong’s own spot-kick to take the game to extra time. Nigeria then managed to get the job done in a shootout, winning 4-2.

Nigeria vs South Africa xG map Opta Analyst

This will be Nigeria’s first appearance in the final since beating Burkina Faso in the 2013 showpiece and only their second this century, having lost to Cameroon in 2000.

Success on Sunday will see them go level with Ghana on four AFCON titles, a tally only bettered by Cameroon (five) and Egypt (seven), whereas Ivory Coast are looking to tie the Super Eagles’ three continental titles.

If Faé’s men are successful, they’ll be the first host nation to win the Africa Cup of Nations since Egypt in 2006. Tunisia also did in the tournament before that in 2004.

Our tournament Opta team stats below allow you to compare the two AFCON 2023 finalists. No side at AFCON 2023 have attempted more shots following a high turnover of possession than Ivory Coast (7), with the host nation having more than double the tally of open-play passing sequences of 10+ passes than Nigeria.

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Head-to-Head

Nigeria and Ivory Coast will be meeting for the eighth time at the Africa Cup of Nations (three wins for Nigeria, two for Ivory Coast, D2), including in all three AFCON editions where the Super Eagles have won the competition (group stage draw in 1980, a 4-2 Nigeria win on pens after a 2-2 semi-final draw in 1994 and a 2-1 Nigeria win in the quarter-finals in 2013).

Of course, they’ve also already played once in this tournament, with Nigeria winning 1-0 on Matchday 2 of Group A thanks to a Troost-Ekong penalty – that was their only shot on target in what was a closely fought encounter, though the Super Eagles arguably just about deserved the victory.

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria xG map Opta Analyst

That group clash was their first contest in any capacity since a January 2015 friendly, which Ivory Coast edged 1-0.

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Prediction

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast prediction Opta Analyst Africa Cup of Nations final

The Opta supercomputer calculates the 2023 AFCON final to be Nigeria’s to lose. José Peseiro’s men came out on top inside 90 minutes in 44.2% of the 10,000 pre-match simulations, making them favourites – as they have been for a while now – by a considerable margin.

Ivory Coast shouldn’t be completely overlooked, though, with the prediction model giving them a 30.2% chance of besting their opponents without requiring extra time.

An additional 30 minutes was required in just over a quarter (25.6%) of the simulations, however. When that and the potential for penalties is taken into account, Nigeria’s likelihood of success is even higher. Ivory Coast are in with more than just a fighting chance though – they have home advantage as well, for what it’s worth.

Despite being considered favourites now, Nigeria weren’t always ahead of the competition. In fact, in our pre-tournament simulations, their 8.0% probability of going all the way was bettered by five teams, including Ivory Coast. At 12.1% back then, the Elephants were rated as second favourites behind Senegal (12.8%).

The tables may have turned over the past few weeks, making Ivory Coast unfancied in the eyes of some. But they’ve defied the odds in getting this far; what’s stopping them doing so again on Sunday?

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Squads

Nigeria: Olorunleke Ojo, Stanley Nwabali, Francis Uzoho, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi, Chidozie Awaziem, Calvin Bassey, Bruno Onyemaechi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi, Alhassan Yusuf, Raphael Onyedika, Joe Aribo, Frank Onyeka, Moses Simon, Paul Onuachu, Ahmed Musa, Alex Iwobi, Victor Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Terem Moffi, Ademola Lookman. 

Coach: José Peseiro 

Ivory Coast: Charles Folly, Yahia Fofana, Badra Ali Sangaré, Evan Ndicka, Wilfried Singo, Ousmane Diomande, Ismaël Diallo, Sèrge Aurier, Odilon Kossounou, Ghislain Konan, Willy-Arnaud Boly, Seko Fofana, Jean Seri, Franck Kessié, Idrissa Doumbia, Ibrahim Sangaré, Lazare Amani, Max Gradel, Jérémie Boga, Simon Adingra, Oumar Diakité, Jean-Philippe Krasso, Sébastien Haller, Jonathan Bamba, Christian Kouamé, Nicolas Pépé, Karim Konaté. 

Coach: Emerse Faé 

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