Ivory Coast’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations hosts, Ivory Coast, defeated DR Congo in a cagey match in Abidjan, setting up a final meeting with Nigeria. The only goal of the match came in the 65th minute when Haller’s volley bounced down into the ground and up over Leopards goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi. DR Congo did not look like getting a late equaliser, although Meschack Elia sent a volley wide of the left-hand upright and Simon Banza fired well over in injury time.
Ivory Coast had sacked Jean-Louis Gasset as boss before scraping through the group stage and had needed late goals against both Senegal and Mali to progress to the last four. Interim boss Emerse Fae now has a chance to guide the Elephants to a third continental title, adding to triumphs in 1992 and 2015.
The Super Eagles had reached the final earlier on Wednesday after beating South Africa 4-2 on penalties following a dramatic 1-1 draw in Bouake. The match was the first time the tournament hosts had returned to the Alassane Ouattara Stadium since suffering a chastening 4-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea which had left the West Africans on the brink of exiting the finals after just three games.
Fae made four changes to the side, which grabbed a 90th-minute equaliser and a 122nd-minute winner against Mali, with captain Serge Aurier, centre-back Odilon Kossounou, and forward Christian Kouame all suspended. The DR Congo squad staged a protest during the anthems, covering their mouths and pointing to the side of their heads to call for peace in the eastern part of the country.
Ivory Coast became the first hosts to reach an Afcon final since Egypt in 2006, with the Pharaohs also being the most recent side to lift the trophy on home soil that year.