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Secrets behind our AFCON victory – CIV coach

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Ivory Coast’s interim manager Emerse Fae.has revealed what he told his players at halftime to spark their stunning second half comeback in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday. 

The Super Eagles struggled to put pressure on the Elephants goalmouth in the first half but took the lead against the run of play courtesy of Player of the Tournament William Troost-Ekong, who rose above the Ivorian defence and planted a strong header into the corner in the 38th minute. 

But credit to the Elephants as they kept winning the first and second  balls and the pressure paid off at the end as Franck Kessie brought the game back to parity with a header of his own before Sebastian Haller got the winning goal for the hosts with eight minutes of regulation time left. 

Fae highlighted during his post-match press conference that there were signs of tiredness in the Super Eagles squad as the game progressed and it was on that basis the Elephants became more aggressive, putting more pressure on the Nigeria defence. 

Four days before the final, the Super Eagles played a grueling game against South Africa in the semifinal, with the match lasting approximately three hours. 

When asked what he told his players at the break, Fae said: “We asked the players to continue fighting. We started the match very well and had control over the ball, we had good possession, good opportunities.
“Of course we conceded a goal during the game because we lost focus at a certain point in time so we asked them to continue playing, to continue to make Nigeria run on the pitch.
“We also felt that Nigeria were a bit tired. They were somehow exhausted so we asked our players to continue to pressurize Nigeria as much as possible because we knew that if we get them exhausted then we will have more opportunities to play our game.”

Emerse Fae was named the Best Coach of the Tournament for showing tactical acumen in guiding the Elephants to a third AFCON title.

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