One of the most exciting Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) will be coming to a close inside the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpé on Sunday night when hosts Ivory Coast take on the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
The delayed edition of the AFCON has served up thrills, dramas, heartbreaks, goals, beautiful scripts, solid storylines and more is being expected in the final matchup.
Hosts Ivory Coast will be gunning for a third title on home soil, while Nigeria will be looking to clinch their fourth title against their West African rivals.
However, the big question will be – despite the 116 goals so far at AFCON 2024, including 89 in the group stage – will the 52nd game on the AFCON 2024 schedule tow the historical path of very tight games, or are we likely to witness a goal-fest?
Goals are rarely seen in AFCON final matches
History is pointing to the fact that the AFCON 2024 final showdown on Sunday, February 11 may not be a high-scoring game, as previous finals but for a handful have always been a tense affair with both teams usually extra cautious and guarding against any form of mistakes.
Looking at the last 10 final matches of the AFCON, only ten (10) goals have been scored within the normal regulation time, with four of the matches ending up being decided on penalties after a goalless affair.
For both teams, even despite reaching the Cup final, they have struggled to score goals, with the hosts managing to score six in six, one fewer than the Super Eagles of Nigeria after the same number of games have been played.
Events in the past few years have made the AFCON somewhat predictable, as six out of the previous 12 final games have been decided on penalties, including the last edition held in Cameroon, with Sadio Mane scoring the last kick that sent Senegal to the top echelon of African football.
Another dramatic finale was the one in 2012 that was co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
The dramatic shoot-out in the final saw Zambia defeat favourites Ivory Coast but that wasn’t the highlight – the fact that a total of 17 penalties were played made it one of the most talked-about AFCON finals.
Interestingly, the two times Ivory Coast won the AFCON titles were decided on penalties against the same opponents, Ghana.
In 1992, the shoot-out ended 11-10 in favour of the Elephants and another 9-8 shoot-out win was recorded in 2015.
The AFCON 2024 finalists Nigeria & Ivory Coast have history
The hosts Ivory Coast and the Super Eagles of Nigeria will be meeting for the eighth time at AFCON, with Nigeria having the advantage with three wins as against Ivory Coast’s two wins.
The latest win for Nigeria came in the AFCON 2024 group stages when the Super Eagles humbled the hosts 1-0 courtesy of a Troost-Ekong penalty.
Interesting fact: Whenever the Super Eagles have gone on to face the Elephants in an AFCON tournament, they have always won the competition. That good omen was reflected in 1980, 1994 and 2013.
The final match is expected to attract a full-capacity crowd in Abidjan, and with the anticipation of a low-scoring game, the $7 million record prize money coupled with incentives from various quarters might propel the teams to go all out and score goals in this final, especially if ‘goals scored’ attracts some sort of reward.