Former Barcelona maestro Franck Kessié is gearing up for a high-stakes battle as Ivory Coast prepares to take on tournament favourites Nigeria in the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final.
In a riveting showdown set to electrify the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and Nigeria are poised to lock horns in the first AFCON final between two West African powerhouses since the Elephants clinched a dramatic victory over the Black Stars in 2015.
Despite early setbacks against Nigeria and dark horse Equatorial Guinea in the group stage, Ivory Coast has staged a remarkable turnaround, stringing together three consecutive victories to secure their spot in the much-anticipated final clash.
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Nigeria captain Ahmed Musa will make history should the Super Eagles defeat Ivory Coast in the AFCON 2023 final on Sunday.
Kessié, acutely aware of the formidable challenge posed by Nigeria, stressed the importance of composure as his team braces for the ultimate showdown.
Speaking candidly to beIN SPORTS, as reported by , following their triumph over the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kessié acknowledged Nigeria's footballing pedigree:
"We all know Nigeria is a very great football nation and a very good team. We were in the same group and we lost 1-0 unfortunately, but we still have a match on Sunday so, as I emphasized earlier today, we are going to remain calm."
Emphasizing the need for focus and preparation, Kessié highlighted the team's collective approach towards the final:
"We are going to savour our victory, and from tomorrow with the help of the technical staff, we will work and we will think about the final."
Kessié: A Key Player for Ivory Coast
Throughout the tournament, Kessié has been a pivotal figure for the Elephants, showcasing his talent and leadership on the field.
His standout performance in the semifinals against the Democratic Republic of Congo earned him the coveted title of Man of the Match, further solidifying his importance to the team's success.