AFCON 2024 final: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast combined XI – who makes the cut?

The world will turn its eyes to the Olympic Stadium of Ebimbe in Abidjan when Nigeria take on hosts Ivory Coast in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024).

The two teams have already met once in the group stage of the tournament, with Nigeria triumphing on that occasion via a narrow 1-0 victory.

For the Super Eagles to be crowned champions, though, they’ll have to beat Ivory Coast again on Sunday, February 11, in front of a roaring crowd that will be rooting for the Elephants.

Kanu, Oshoala, Adekunle Gold lead eulogies for AFCON finalists Nigeria
Photo by Icon Sport

Jose Peseiro’s side have, however, shown that they are capable of rising to the occasion when it matters most. Nigeria have already made light work of Cameroon and Angola, and needed a penalty shootout to see off rivals South Africa in the semi-finals before getting to the final.

For Ivory Coast, it has been an unconventional route, as they were fortunate to qualify as one of the best third-place teams despite losing two matches in Group A and finishing the group with a goal difference of negative three.

Emerse Fae’s side have, however, done well not to look back since reaching the knockout stage, beating Senegal (on penalties), Mali and DR Congo to book their spot in the final.

Revenge or repeat for Nigeria and Ivory Coast

Player-for-player, Nigeria are far ahead of Ivory Coast in terms of talent and that is one of the reasons why the Super Eagles will go into Sunday’s game as favourites.

However, talent alone is never enough in this sport and the Elephants have proved that over and over in this tournament with their resilience and fighting spirit. They have fed off the energy from their teeming home fans, with the players treating every game like a final.

Now they have the chance to attain immortality by becoming the first country to host and win the AFCON since Egypt in 2006. The game could go either way and while Nigeria will be targeting a repeat of the group-stage encounter, the hosts will also be aiming to enact some revenge.

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast combined XI

A combined starting lineup of both teams is difficult to make, but there are still some players who have stood shoulders above everyone else.

One of those is Stanley Nwabali, who has kept four clean sheets in six games at the AFCON. The Nigerian goalkeeper is one of the major factors why the Super Eagles are in the final, with his penalty-saving heroics seeing them past South Africa in the semi-finals.

For this reason, he takes the goalkeeper spot over Ivory Coast’s Yahia Fofana, who also hasn’t been bad at all in the tournament.

At right-back is Ola Aina. The Nottingham Forest man has been ever-present for the Super Eagles and despite being deployed at right wing-back, he has still delivered some top performances.

Ivory Coast’s Ghislain Konan takes the left-back slot for being one of their shining lights en route to the final. In centre-back, William Troost-Ekong and Calvin Bassey edge everyone else after keeping the most clean sheets in the tournament.

The midfield three is also made up of Seko Fofana, Alex Iwobi and Franck Kessie, who have all enjoyed a great tournament so far. Nigeria’s Frank Onyeka narrowly misses out but his tireless performances in the middle of the park deserve a mention.

The front three is more predictable, with the ever-dangerous Victor Osimhen flanked by Ademola Lookman and Simon Adingra to the right and left wing, respectively.

Osimhen has only scored one goal in the tournament, but he has been a livewire in every game he has played and is unfortunate to have seen two of his goals ruled out by VAR in the previous matches.

Lookman also came alive in the knockout rounds, contributing three goals in the round of 16 and quarter-final, while Adingra has worked his way into Ivory Coast’s starting line-up after scoring and helping the Elephants chalk a comeback win over Mali in the quarter-finals.

See Afrik Foot’s combined XI for the Nigeria vs Ivory Coast AFCON final below: 

Formation: 4-3-3

  • Stanley Nwabali
  • Ola Aina
  • William Troost-Ekong
  • Calvin Bassey
  • Ghislain Konan
  • Seko Fofana
  • Alex Iwobi
  • Franck Kessie
  • Ademola Lookman
  • Simon Adingra
  • Victor Osimhen 
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Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.