Africa Cup Final, who will bring the trophy home?

After a month of intense competition we finally have the line up for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations ready. Two heavyweights in the continent are ready to show down as we see 3 time winner Nigeria and 4 time finalist Ivory Coast face off in the final on Sunday night. Can Ivory Coast make it to a 3rd Africa Cup trophy or will Osimhen and his compatriots fire Nigeria to their 4th title in history?

Road to the final

RoundNigeriaIvory Coast
Group Stage1-1(D) vs Equatorial Guinea2-0(W) vs Guinea Bissau
Group Stage1-0(W) vs Ivory Coast0-1(L) vs Nigeria
Group Stage1-0(W) vs Guinea Bissau0-4(L) vs Equatorial Guinea
Last 162-0(W) vs Cameroon1-1(5-4 wns) vs Senegal
Quarter Finals1-0(W) vs Angola2-1(W E.T) vs Mali
Semi Finals1-1(4-2 wns) vs South Africa1-0(W) vs Congo-Kinshasa

Both finalists started the tournament in group A but actually both did not manage to win the group as Equatorial Guinea with a 4-0 trashing over Ivory Coast on the last day of the group stage claimed top spot. Ivory Coast, that also had lost the match before against Nigeria qualified as one of the 4 best 3rd placed teams thanks to their 2-0 victory on the first matchday against Guinea-Bissau.Ivory Coast then defeated defending champions Senegal after penalties and needed extra time to overcome Mali in the quarter finals. A Sebastian Haller strike was then enough to seal a 1-0 victory to book a place in the final. 

Nigeria ́s tournament has been very stable, the team only conceded 2 goals in 6 matches, but has seen difficulties scoring goals as well. A 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in the opening match was followed by two 1-0 victories over Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau. Then the Nigerians defeated Cameroon 2-0 in the last 16 and only needed 1 goal to overcome Angola in the Quarter Finals. They were stretched to the limit by South Africa in the semi final where penalties decided the tie in Nigeria´s advantage.

Who will win the final? 

Nigeria are considered favourites, both by the bookies and by the simulations.In the simulations Nigeria are given a 61.9% probability to lift the trophy whereas Ivory Coast only has a 38.9% chance. The odds are more balanced, with Nigeria having average odds of 1.88 and Ivory Coast of 1.93. Based on team strength and the previous result in the tournament between the two teams it seems Nigeria has a slight edge. Their impressive defensive displays and their firepower up front with Osimhen and Lookman might just prove to be too much for Ivory Coast. However, Ivory Coast, boosted by their home fans are very well able to set up a surprise and nick the trophy. 

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