The delayed 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) ended in style on Sunday, February 11 with hosts Ivory Coast lifting the coveted trophy. The Elephants produced a brilliant comeback to beat pre-match favorites Nigeria 2-1 at the iconic Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium domiciled in Abidjan. Super Eagles’ defender William Troost-Ekong had put Nigeria ahead in the 38th minute but two second-half goals from Franck Kessie and Borussia Dortmund forward Sebastian Haller ensured the trophy remained in Ivory Coast. The success sees them add this year’s title to those claimed in 1992 and 2015, while the win also allowed them to join Nigeria on three Cup of Nations triumphs overall.
They became the first host country to win the AFCON since 2006. The success was sweeter since it made the Ivoirians equal the number of AFCON titles that Nigeria has won in the history of the continental showpiece. Despite the memorable win, no player from the Elephants team managed to scoop an individual award. Here is the list of stars who won individual awards at the 34th edition of one of the most difficult tournaments in the world.
Golden Boot award: Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea mercurial forward Emilio Nsue Lopez bagged the Puma Golden Boot Award. The 34-year-old was the tournament’s top scorer with five goals including a hat-trick against rivals Guinea Bissau at the group stage. Egypt’s Mostafa Mohamed and Angola’s Gelson Dala came second with four goals each while Nigeria’s Ademola Lookman completed the list of the top three goal scorers having hit the back of the net three times. Finally, South Africa’s national team popularly known as Bafana Bafana were awarded the Fair Play award by the organizers.
The reliable defender, who plays professional football for Greek-based side PAOK FC, scored some important goals that helped the Super Eagles reach the final. He was also solid at the back, throwing himself at anything that came his way.