…Ekong wins MVP award, S’Africa’s Williams displaces Nwabali as best goalkeeper
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The host, Ivory Coast, Sunday, stopped the Super Eagles of Nigeria from lifting the AFCON cup as the encounter between the Elephants and the Super Eagles ended 2:1 in favour of the host.
However, Nigeria’s Captain, William Troost-Ekong won the Most Valuable Player of the tournament award due to his impressive performance during the tournament.
Meanwhile, the hope of Nigeria’s keeper, Stanley Nwabali of clinching the Best Goalkeeper award was dashed by the Eagles poor performance as the prestigious award went to the South African goalkeeper, Ronald Williams who had a record of saving four penalty kicks in the quarter final.
Two Elephant players – Franck Kessie and Sébastien Haller scored in the second half, and cancelled Troost-Ekong’s first-half opener as the match ended 2:1 in full time.
The Eagles were not in their best of shapes during the encounter which millions of Nigerians had watched with much expectations.
By this victory, Ivory Coast has lifted the AFCON trophy three times having won it before in 1992 and 2015 respectively.
Nigeria has also won it three times – in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
Unlike the Eagles, the Elephants had a very poor beginning at the tournament having lost their earlier encounter with the Super Eagles, and were almost eliminated at the group stage but only managed to qualify after picking the last best losers slot.
Their unimpressive beginning earned their coach Jean-Louis Gasset, a sack, but his indigenous replacement has set a record for himself.
Ex-Ivorian football legend and former African Footballer of the Year, Didier Drogba was sighted jubilating and giving morale boosters to the Elephants, just as Nigeria’s former Striker and the current boss of Enyimba FC, Kanu Nwankwo, was also spotted consoling the downcast Eagles.