Africa: Ivory Coast Celebrates AFCON 2023 Victory with Joyous Parade in Abidjan

Africa: Ivory Coast Celebrates AFCON 2023 Victory with Joyous Parade in Abidjan

By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria

The streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, overflowed with jubilant fans as the nation celebrated its remarkable victory in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament. Tens of thousands of supporters gathered to witness the parade, reminiscent of the scene in 2015 when the Elephants last claimed the AFCON title. 

Sebastien Haller, whose decisive goal secured Ivory Coast’s 2-1 victory over Nigeria in the final match, along with the rest of the squad, rode through the streets on a specially adorned truck, proudly displaying the three stars symbolizing the nation’s third AFCON championship.

Monday was declared a special holiday, allowing fans to throng bridges and avenues, braving the oppressive heat to run alongside the victorious team’s procession. The parade, lasting for four hours, culminated in the Felix Houphouët-Boigny stadium, where the team arrived under heavy police escort.

Wearing ‘African champions’ t-shirts, the players took a lap of honor around the packed stadium, filled with fans donning the national color, orange. The overwhelming pride felt by both players and supporters was palpable, as they celebrated their astonishing journey to victory, especially considering their initial struggles in the group stage.

Max-Alain Gradel, a veteran player who had also been part of the 2015 championship team, presented the trophy to the crowd, symbolizing the culmination of Ivory Coast’s perseverance and determination throughout the tournament.

Just three weeks prior, the prospect of such celebrations seemed unlikely, as Ivory Coast faced an early exit after suffering a humiliating 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea in the group stage. The departure of their coach and the appointment of Emerse Fae, a former Ivorian international with no prior coaching experience, marked a turning point in their fortunes.

Under Fae’s guidance, the team staged a remarkable comeback, defeating strong opponents such as Senegal, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo on their path to the final against Nigeria. Despite the odds, Ivory Coast emerged victorious, completing a fairy tale journey that captured the hearts of their nation.

The celebrations continued with the team’s reception by President Alassane Ouattara, further solidifying their status as heroes in the eyes of the Ivorian people. As the nation basked in the glory of their AFCON triumph, the players and supporters alike savored the momentous achievement, marking a historic chapter in Ivory Coast’s football legacy.

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