Ivory Coast supporters remained seated in disbelief after a shocking 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea ousted their team from the AFCON tournament.

Distraught and in utter disbelief, the home fans gave unrestrained public expression to their anguish, an outpouring of emotions. They wore their hearts on their sleeves for all to see. Some stared blankly into the distance, aghast, trying to process and comprehend what had just happened.

A video of an inconsolable male supporter wailing hysterically went viral. One could be forgiven for thinking he was mourning the death of a loved one.

Ivory Coast Fan – A video of an inconsolable male supporter wailing hysterically went viral.

The post-match scenes were a gold mine for memes and GIFs.

After the euphoria and high expectations engendered by the pre-tournament hype, the hosts were mourning the premature death of a dream. Elimination from AFCON 2023 at the group stage was not in the script.

This is a nation that gave the Premier League such luminaries like Didier Drogba, Yaya and Kolo Toure, Salomon Kalou, etc. The effort was simply not good enough. In the eyes of an expectant populace, the team had criminally underperformed.

No, news of Ivory Coast’s early AFCON exit, as widely reported around the globe after the defeat, was not exaggerated. We had all watched the hosts getting a real spanking from one of the tournament’s lowest-ranked teams. Ivory Coast, humiliated in their own backyard, were made to look like hapless amateurs.

With a return of three points from a possible nine and a goal difference of -3 none gave the Elephants a chance of qualification for the last-16 phase via the “best third-placed” route. The eternal optimists, mandatorily, reminded us that the hosts still had a mathematical chance.

Nottingham Forest must have already started planning for the return of their Ivorian contingent of Willy Boly, Serge Aurier and Ibrahim Sangare in time for the match against Arsenal on 30 January. To all intents and purposes, the Forest trio’s AFCON adventure was over.

Ivory Coast was dead and buried, and the dead don’t exactly come back to life, do they?

The fallout

The fallout from the elimination saw Jean-Louis Gasset sacked as coach. The swift inquest deemed the 70-year-old Frenchman to be no longer fit for purpose. He had presided over a national embarrassment.

The reprieve

Another tournament had come and gone. Another AFCON dream was shattered and deferred. The wait for the elusive continental title continued. Surely there was no way back?

Fast forward 48 hours. Tunisia and Zambia each needed to win to progress but could only manage draws against South Africa and Morocco, respectively. Zambia would finish third in Group F on two points, and Tunisia last in Group E, also with a meagre tally of two points.

Those results hauled Ivory Coast from the grave. The football gods had conspired to give the hosts a new lease on life—a reprieve.

A third-place finish in Group A with a negative goal difference of -3 turned out to be good enough to earn the hosts a place in the knockout phase as one of the four best third-place finishers.


Ivory Coast fans can’t recoup the tears they shed after the Equatorial Guinea drubbing, but at least they will have another opportunity to cheer their team and celebrate it’s resurrection.

The hosts will face the mightily impressive Senegal in the last-16 round on 29 January after the defending champions progressed from their group with a 100% record.

The marauding Teranga Lions are hardly the calibre of opponent Ivory Coast want to face in their bid for redemption. Then again, the bigger the challenge, the sweeter the victory.

And miracles do happen, as we have already witnessed.

AFCON Knockout Stage: Fixtures and Schedules

Last-16 Fixtures

Saturday, January 27

  • Angola vs Namibia (Stade de la Paix, Bouake, 5pm)
  • Nigeria vs Cameroon (Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan, 8pm)

Sunday, January 28

  • Equatorial Guinea vs Guinea (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 5pm)
  • Egypt vs DR Congo (Laurent Pokou Stadium, San Pedro, 8pm)

Monday, January 29

  • Cape Verde vs Mauritania (Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan, 5pm)
  • Senegal vs Ivory Coast (Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Yamoussoukro, 8pm)

Tuesday, January 30

  • Mali vs Burkina Faso (Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium, Korhogo, 5pm)
  • Morocco vs South Africa (Laurent Pokou Stadium, San Pedro, 8pm)


Friday, February 2

  • Nigeria or Cameroon vs Angola or Namibia (Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan, 5pm)
  • Egypt or DR Congo vs Equatorial Guinea or Guinea (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 8pm)

Saturday, February 3

  • Mali or Burkina Faso vs Senegal or Ivory Coast (Stade de la Paix, Bouake, 5pm)
  • Cape Verde or Mauritania vs Morocco or South Africa (Charles Konan Banny Stadium, Yamoussoukro, 8pm)


Wednesday, February 7

  • Winner 1 vs Winner 4 (Stade de la Paix, Bouake, 5pm)
  • Winner 3 vs Winner 2 (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 8pm)

Third place play-off

Saturday, February 10

  • Loser semi-final 1 vs Loser semi-final 2 (Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan, 8pm)


Sunday, February 11

  • Winner semi-final 1 vs Winner semi-final 2 (Alassane Ouattara Stadium, Abidjan, 8pm)

Stay tuned for updates and results.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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