Nigeria lost the 2018 Africa Cup of Nations final 2-1 against Ivory Coast, extending their quest for their fourth championship.

Following a goal by William Troost-Ekong, it looked as though the Super Eagles would have raised the trophy once more at the end of the first half.

To head in a corner kick and give Nigeria the lead, the captain reached the highest point.

However, the Elephants won the championship at home thanks to goals from Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller in the second half.

What then went wrong?

  1. Peseiro used the incorrect strategies: Many thanks to José Peseiro. Following the 1-1 draw in the first group match against Equatorial Guinea, he changed to a 3-4-3 tactical scheme, which helped Nigeria advance to the championship game. But starting with the semifinal matchup with South Africa, the weaknesses in that arrangement became apparent. The Portuguese also needed to change things against the hosts, maybe returning to a back four.
  2. There were too many subpar performances: Nigerian players had several poor outings from back to front. Calvin Bassey appeared uneasy. Although he was back in the starting lineup, Zaidu Sanusi needed to be more trustworthy. Ola Aina decided to play his poorest match in the championship. Alex Iwobi was just a bystander on the pitch, while Samuel Chukwueze had no business starting the game.
  3. Historical significance: In an AFCON final, the Super Eagles have never triumphed over a host nation. And it felt sinister when Ivory Coast sneaked into the knockout stages as the final team to qualify. They had to answer the call of fate. The winner was declared to be Sebastien Haller. He received a cancer diagnosis about two years ago. He was making history with his nation on Sunday.
  4. Bad officiating: Viewers and commentators praised the usage of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for most of the competition, asking the top European leagues to take note. However, the final officiating was a disgrace. The referee appeared nervous and overburdened. The majority of 50/50 calls went to the way of the hosts. Kessie, who equalized for the hosts, could have easily seen red after elbowing Sanusi.

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