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AFCON Final: Nigeria v Ivory Coast
This year’s AFCON has been fantastically unpredictable, with not one of the eight quarter-finalists from two years ago reaching the quarters this time around. At the end of it all, just Nigeria and Ivory Coast remain, and they meet on Sunday evening to decide this year’s champion, in a game which looks ideal for a bet builder.
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Ivory Coast are searching for their third AFCON title, having last won it in 2015. They have a star-studded squad led by Seko Fofana, Simon Adingra, Franck Kessié, and Sébastien Haller, who have helped fire them to the final.
The journey hasn’t been straightforward for the Elephants who only won one group game and had to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams. They’ve since changed coaches with interim coach Emerse Fae leading one of the greatest comebacks in the competition’s history.
Unlike Ivory Coast, Nigeria has had a fairly smooth journey to the final and remain the only side yet to lose a game at the tournament so far. The Super Eagles are looking for their fourth AFCON crown, with their last victory coming in 2013. They too possess plenty of talent like Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, Calvin Bassey, and Alex Iwobi.
A William Troost-Ekong penalty was the difference between the two sides when they met in the group stages. This AFCON final is shaping up to be an exciting and competitive match between two talented teams. With the stakes so high, both sides will be determined to lift the trophy.
Nigeria v Ivory Coast Cheat Sheet
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🏆 Match stats: Ivory Coast rejuvenated but Nigeria have character
Nigeria’s defence in this AFCON has been a brick wall, conceding two goals with only one coming from open play. The Super Eagles have been the ultimate tournament team going about their business in a very efficient manner. They do what they must to win and as a result, their football hasn’t been the most attractive at times.
A case in point was when they met the hosts back in the group stages and defended for large parts of their games, only picking their moments to attack. The 2013 AFCON winners are aware of their attacking talent and stand a chance of winning any game when they defend well.
Since Peseiro switched to a 3-4-3 formation, Nigeria are yet to concede a goal from open play and have looked formidable against Cameroon, Angola, and South Africa in the knockout stages.
Ivory Coast, on the other hand, have been easing themselves back into the competition after they were almost knocked out of the group stages. The appointment of Fae has provided a spark as they’ve gone on to beat Senegal, Mali, and DR Congo in the quarter-finals albeit the performances haven’t been the best.
The return of Haller and Adingra has given the Elephants a different dimension in attack as they can look to threaten teams from wide areas. The midfield options of Fofana, Kessie, Sangare, and Seri continue to give the team the ability to control games.
⚽ Ivory Coast to win @ 2.88
🎯 Shooting stats: Tough defences should force audacious shots
Both sides possess tremendous individual talent like Sebastien Haller, Franck Kessie, Victor Osimhen, and Moses Simon who can create something from nothing.
Ivory Coast are currently averaging 13.2 shots a game in this AFCON whilst Nigeria are averaging 12.7 per game. These two sides aren’t shy to have a go at goal and it is the reason they are here. Victor Osimhen has only scored one goal this tournament and has seen three ruled out for offside. He is desperate to score and that is reflected in his shot attempts, he is averaging four shots a game which is the highest in the tournament.
Ademola Lookman, who has three goals, is only two behind tournament top scorer Emilio Nsue and will have one eye on the Golden Boot. Two goals for the Atalanta forward should be enough to see him take home the coveted award. As a result, he will take more shots in the final to increase his chances of scoring.
For Ivory Coast, Seko Fofana’s shots have been a good source of goals for the hosts. He scored the first goal of the tournament with a shot from range and in the semi final against Mali, his two shots were turned in by Adingra and Diakhite. The midfielder is attempting 2.5 shots per game and that frequency will most likely continue in the final.
Haller is playing like a striker who wants to make it up for his nation. Ivory Coast missed him in the early part of the tournament when he was injured. Since his return in the round of 16, he is averaging 2 shots per game and the team is set up to cross for him.
The likelihood of high pressure and nervous defending could also lead to more shots from distance.
⚽ Victor Osimhen to have 1+ shots on target @ 1.33
⚽ Sebastien Haller to have 1+ shots on target @ 1.67
🛑 Fouls stats: A feisty game expected in Abidjan
With the Africa Cup of Nations title on the line, expect both Ivory Coast and Nigeria to leave everything on the field in the final, leading to a physically intense match.
These teams have some rugged players like Franck Kessie, Serge Aurier, Frank Onyeka, Calvin Bassey, and the like who aren’t afraid of putting in crunching tackles. With the stakes so high, the referee may be inclined to let more go without pulling out cards early.
This could lead to escalating aggression and late challenges as fatigue sets in. Ivory Coast also like to play on the counter, which often draws fouls as defenders look to break up quick attacks.
Nigeria’s speedy wingers will also look to draw contact to win set pieces. With two determined, physical sides chasing AFCON glory, emotions are sure to boil over at times, culminating in a fiery, foul-ridden affair.
Tired legs towards the end may exacerbate sloppy tackles too. So expect plenty of physical duels, rough challenges, and clashes in the midfield in what should be a hotly-contested final.
⚽ Serge Aurier to commit 2+ fouls @ 2.80
⚽ Calvin Bassey to commit 2+ fouls @ 2.20
⚽ Jean-Michael Seri to commit 2+ fouls @ 1.67
* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets.
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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