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The highly anticipated AFCON2023 final between the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire and the Super Eagles of Nigeria is scheduled to take place at the magnificent Stade Alassane Ouattara, Ebimpe, with the kickoff set for 9 p.m. Nigerian time (8 p.m. local time).

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The football spectacle that commenced just a month ago in Cote d’Ivoire reaches its thrilling climax as the two teams battle for supremacy in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The upcoming clash holds the promise of an explosive encounter, considering the familiarity between the nations and their recent meeting in the group stage. Nigeria secured a 1-0 victory against Côte d’Ivoire in the previous encounter, with Captain William Troost-Ekong calmly converting a spot kick.

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While Nigeria aims to achieve a rare feat of defeating the same nation twice in a CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament, the task may prove herculean given the changes since their previous match.

The head-to-head record between the teams stands at 12 matches, with Nigeria winning four, Côte d’Ivoire winning six, and two draws. In terms of recent form, Nigeria has displayed a winning streak (W W W W W), while Côte d’Ivoire has experienced mixed results (L L W W W).

As both teams vie for the prestigious title, the experience in AFCON finals differs. Nigeria, with three titles (1980, 1994, and 2013), has secured victories in regulation time. In contrast, Cote d’Ivoire clinched two championships in dramatic penalty shootouts in 1992 and 2015.

Key players to watch include Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, and William Troost-Ekong for Nigeria, and Sebastian Haller, Simon Adingra, and Franck Kessie for Côte d’Ivoire.

In terms of team news, concerns about fatigue linger for Nigerian players who have accumulated over 500 minutes of play. Zaidu Sanusi’s starting position is uncertain, while Osayi-Samuel and Aina may feature. For Côte d’Ivoire, freshness is an advantage, with only four players surpassing 500 minutes played.

Possible starting lineups include:

Nigeria: Nwabali; Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Osayi-Samuel, Onyeka, Iwobi, Aina; Simon, Lookman; Osimhen

Côte d’Ivoire: Fofana; Aurier, Boly, Ndicka, Konan; Kessie, Seri, Fofana; Pepe, Haller, Adingra

The prediction for the final is Côte d’Ivoire 1{3}-1{4} Nigeria.

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