'It's the truth' - Peseiro confesses Super Eagles were second-best to Cinderella team Elephants in AFCON finalPublished: February 12, 2024
Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro has admitted that the Super Eagles were second best to the Elephants in Sunday night's dramatic 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan.
Ivory Coast, the Cinderella team of the tournament, were crowned kings of the continent for a third time after coming from behind to beat Nigeria 2-1 to top off what has been a remarkable journey and an incredible comeback in a tournament full of surprises.
Ivory Coast were on the brink of being eliminated in the group stage and then sacked their manager Jean-Louis Gasset and replaced him with Emerse Fae.
In an another amazing story of unlikely triumph, former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller got the winning goal for the hosts with eight minutes of regulation time left, after Franck Kessie canceled out William Troost-Ekong's first-half header.
Nigeria, praised for their defensive solidity before the final, sat back a little bit too much and allowed the Elephants to get the winning goal.
Asked at the post-match press conference if he has one thing to remember about the tournament, Peseiro answered: "I agree with you our team had a fantastic tournament but today Côte d'Ivoire was better, had a very good game.
"Our team didn't show our level, it's the truth. No individual quality and collective performance like we did before.
"I must say congratulations to Côte d'Ivoire, was better than us today. Congratulations to my players because they did a fantastic job until today. They wanted like me to win the trophy for the Nigerian people but we could not.
"We need to accept the result. I am sad, my team is sad but for me, each one did the maximum. In life, sometimes you want to do but cannot."
Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong, who set a record as the top scoring defender in AFCON history with his opener in the showpiece, won the Best Player award.
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