February 08, (THEWILL) – Sebastian Haller was the hero as hosts, Ivory Coast, booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on Wednesday night. The Ajax striker scored the decisive goal midway through the second half to send the capacity home crowd into raptures.
In energy-sapping heat and humidity at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, both sides gave their all but struggled to create clear-cut chances in a tense opening 45 minutes. Ivory Coast went close through Haller and Franck Kessie, whose effort cannoned off the woodwork, while the DRC saw a Cedric Bakambu goal ruled out for handball.
The game remained in the balance until the 65th minute when Max Gradel’s teasing right-wing cross was emphatically volleyed home by Haller. The hosts almost extended their advantage late on as Haller twice went close to grabbing a second.
But one goal was enough for Ivory Coast, who will now face Nigeria in Yaounde on Sunday evening. Victory would seal a fairytale first AFCON triumph for rookie manager, Emerse Fae, who only took charge halfway through the tournament after the sacking of previous boss, Patrice Beaumelle.
About the Author
Jude Obafemi is a versatile senior Correspondent at THEWILL Newspapers, excelling in sourcing, researching, and delivering sports news stories for both print and digital publications.