Why William Troost-Ekong shone in AFCON 2023

Published: February 22, 2024
Why William Troost-Ekong shone in AFCON 2023

The 2023 African Cup of Nations has recently concluded with the host country Ivory Coast securing the championship in a hard fought battle against Nigeria. The final game concluded at two goals to one in favor of the host country. But as Ivory Coast celebrated their win over their rivals, the AFCON deemed Nigeria Super Eagles team captain William Troost-Ekong as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. We take a look at how the central defender and the stand-in captain of the Super Eagles captured the hearts of AFCON fans despite not winning the championship.


Tenacity in defense


William Troost-Ekong always had an impressive intuition when it comes to defense in the football field. It is this tactical brilliance and tenacity in applying pressure against rivals on the field that fans always see in Troost-Ekong. For this reason, the Nigerian Super Eagles placed the trust and responsibility on Troost-Ekong’s exceptional perception of the game as the stand-in captain.


While Troost-Ekong is a reliable defensive hand, do not ignore his capability as an offensive anchor either. As soon as he sees an opening, expect a play to unfold as fast as lightning. It's this dynamic ability that might explain why a comparator of betting sites in Nigeria often shows the Super Eagles in a strong position. Troost-Ekong has always been recognized as a superior asset in Nigeria’s football and a huge threat by his competitors.


Throughout the tournament, Troost-Ekong scored three goals, one of which was the only Super Eagles score during the finals game against the Ivory Coast Elephants. For the entire game, this one goal pressured the Elephants and their fans in a contemplative silence. While the Elephants successfully rallied a goal, it took them up until the 62nd minute, since Troost-Ekong led the defensive pressure against their attempts.


Criticism and self-criticism


Apart from capitalizing on his rivals’ mistakes, the stand-in captain also possesses a critical eye that looks for cracks and dents in his team’s plays. This acknowledgement of improvement for future matches is another reason why Troost-Ekong earned the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament. He has since stated that he will use the award as his inspiration.


After the AFCON finals concluded, Troost-Ekong expressed a few introspective statements about tactical changes that he thought would have gotten the Super Eagles the coveted championship. However, this self-criticism establishes Troost-Ekong’s recognition of his shortcomings which his fans and teammates could expect him to work on.


This critique also applies to his team as well, according to his media appearance after he stated his thoughts about the final game. Troost-Ekong said that had the Super Eagles team manager Jose Peseiro made a few adjustments during that crucial match against the Ivory Coast Elephants, they may have just snatched the championship away from the Ivorians. 


Troost-Ekong said that the lack of room to improvise when it comes to defensive strategies in the finals match lead could have been an advantage against the Ivory Coast Elephants. He notes that the rigidity meant that they could not cover defensive flaws surfacing as the game progressed. Regardless, Troost-Ekong still places his support in Periero’s direction, noting that the Portuguese team manager has helped the team regain their confidence during a tumultuous time.


The future ahead for Nigerian football seems pretty bright, despite their loss against the Ivory Coast in the 2023 AFCON. And with a player as talented and determined as William Troost-Ekong, that path only shines brighter. It is further supported by the wealth of young talents surrounding Troost-Ekong that are more than willing to learn from him, the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.




Ifeanyi Emmanuel

Latest News
Hire the right candidates on MyJobMag
News Categories