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AFCON 2023: Players who impressed during the tournament

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Simon Adingra impressed at the AFCON 2023 tournament Photo beIN
Simon Adingra impressed at the AFCON 2023 tournament. Photo/ beIN
  • AFCON 2023 came to a conclusion at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan with the hosts, Ivory Coast lifting the coveted title.
  • We look at players who impressed during the AFCON 2023 tournament.

AFCON 2023 came to a conclusion at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan with the hosts, Ivory Coast lifting the coveted title.

Sebastien Haller‘s late goal sealed an incredible story of individual and team resilience and proved to be the difference between the two sides. After being defeated by Equatorial Guinea in the group stage, the Ivorians fired their manager mid-tournament, but they recovered to win the title of Africa’s greatest team for a record three times.

We look at players who impressed during the AFCON 2023 tournament.

Franck Kessie – Ivory Coast

Franck Kessie

Franck Kessie impressed the fans during the AFCON 2023 tournament. Photo/CaughtOffside

One of the most well-known players on the Ivorian squad before the event, Franck Kessie played up to his reputation in the elimination stages.

After an uninspiring group stage, the former AC Milan and Barcelona midfielder came to life, scoring a pressure penalty against holders Senegal in the round of 16 and going on to win the semi-final match against DR Congo as the man of the match.

In the championship match, Kessie headed in Simon Adingra’s corner to tie the score with Nigeria. It was Ivory Coast’s first-ever goal in an AFCON final and the starting point for their comeback.

Emilio Nsue – Equatorial Guinea

Emilio Nsue, the captain of Equatorial Guinea, leaves with the AFCON Golden Boot after an incredible tournament.

Despite his country’s elimination in the round of 16, the 34-year-old scored five goals, including two in the 4-0 group stage hammering of eventual winners Ivory Coast and a hat-trick against Guinea Bissau.

Nsue’s success in the AFCON brings him up to the ranks of notable footballers like Didier Drogba, Vincent Aboubakar, and Samuel Eto’o. This is an incredible accomplishment for a player who has spent the majority of his career playing right-back and presently plays club football in the third division of Spanish football.

Ronwen Williams – South Africa

Ronwen Williams won the best AFCON 2023 goalkeeper trophy Photo The Citizen

Ronwen Williams won the best AFCON 2023 goalkeeper trophy. Photo/ The Citizen

South Africa surprised everyone by winning the bronze medal, making them one of the tournament’s surprises. Despite not even making it to the last AFCON, Bafana Bafana made it to the semifinals thanks in part to captain Ronwen Williams‘ exploits in goalkeeping.

After five clean sheets and just one goal conceded in South Africa’s six games, the 32-year-old was named the tournament’s Golden Glove winner. Williams, who saved FOUR penalties in the shootout following a goalless draw, was the hero of the quarterfinal victory over Cape Verde.

With saves from Chancel Mbemba and Meschack Elia in a memorable campaign, the Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper secured another shootout victory as South Africa defeated DR Congo in the third-place play-off.

William Troost-Ekong – Nigeria

Ronwen Williams won the best AFCON 2023 goalkeeper trophy Photo The Citizen 1

Ronwen Williams won the best AFCON 2023 goalkeeper trophy. Photo/ The Citizen

William Troost-Ekong led Nigeria to the championship game and was awarded Player of the Tournament.

The captain of the Super Eagles, who scored three goals in the tournament, including the game-winning goal in the team’s final loss to Ivory Coast, was a threat up top and a reliable backup.

Nigeria’s campaign was built around an outstanding pairing between Semi Ajayi and Calvin Bassey, as the runners-up only gave up twice in six games before the championship.

Troost-Ekong, who signed with PAOK in the summer after leaving Watford, performed well for his club when it mattered most.

Simon Adingra – Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast wins afcon 2023

Ivory Coast players celebrate after winning the AFCON. PHOTO/CAF

In the elimination stages, the Brighton winger proved to be the difference maker, and Simon Adingra was named Young Player of the Tournament.

After a productive loan season at Union Saint-Gilloise the previous season, the 22-year-old is still getting used to life in the Premier League, but he has proven he can have an impact on big-stage matches.

In the quarterfinal victory over Mali, Adingra scored a vital last-minute equalizer to force extra time. In the final, Adingra lived up to the occasion, setting up both goals as Ivory Coast defeated Nigeria.

Adingra helped goalscorers Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller with his set-piece deliveries, which proved to be the decisive factor in the match.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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