ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Feb 8 – They were erstwhile dead and buried after sneaking to the round of 16 at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as one of the best four third placed teams, but hosts Ivory Coast have now limped their way into the final after seeing off DR Congo by a solitary goal in Wednesday night’s semi-final.
The Ivorians have rode their luck, and by extension their hard work and never give up attitude all through the tournament.
They beat holders Senegal in the round of 16 on post match penalties after a stoppage time equalizer, and did the same in the quarter finals against Mali, where they scored a 90th minute equalizer to go on and win the duel 2-1 in extra time.
Against DR Congo though, they were in control from the word go, and didn’t want to make any more mistakes.
Sebastian Haller scored the winner in the 64th minute to send Les Elephants to Sunday’s final against Nigeria, a repeat of their group stage meeting where the Super Eagles won 1-0.
Haller volleyed the ball into the ground taking a bounce that beat the DR Congo keeper, after a well weighted cross from Max Gradel off the right.
It was a relief goal for the Borussia Dortmund forward, having earlier missed a sitter with a header unmarked at the edge of the six yard box going wide.
he would have completed his brace with 20 minutes left when he picked the ball outside the box with the keeper off his line, but his lofted effort bounced wide off target.
DR Congo struggled to create chances as the Ivorians were well organized at the back and seldom made mistakes.