Super Eagles lost to hosts Ivory Coast in a thrilling Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final match at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan, on Sunday.
Nigeria looked set to repeat their 1-0 victory over the Ivorians here at the Ebimpe Olympic Stadium during the group stage when captain William Troost-Ekong -– who had netted a penalty to decide that first meeting -– rose to head in the opener late in the first half.
However, Franck Kessie equalised just after the hour mark and Haller turned in Simon Adingra’s cross in the 81st minute to spark wild celebrations among the sea of orange in the Abidjan stands.
Ivory Coast’s success sees them add this year’s title to those claimed in 1992 and 2015, while this win also allows them to join Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall.
Only Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana have won the title more often, with the Super Eagles squandering the opportunity to match their Ghanaian rivals on four victories.
Spearheaded by reigning African player of the year Osimhen, the Nigerians had looked the most formidable team in the competition over the last month.
But Ivory Coast’s sense of destiny was simply too overpowering, as they became the first host country to win the AFCON since 2006.
Didier Drogba captained the Elephants team that lost on penalties to Egypt in Cairo in that final 18 years ago, while this time he was among the spectators to witness a stunning victory for his country.