Celebrations erupt in Ivory Coast as the nation offers a warm welcome to the AFCON champions. Tens of thousands of ecstatic supporters gathered in Abidjan’s streets to celebrate Ivory Coast’s remarkable victory in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), in a spectacular display of national pride and celebration.
The exhilarating victory parade began on Monday, following the nail-biting final versus Nigeria, which ended in a 2-1 triumph.
Sebastien Haller, the night’s hero with the game-winning goal, led the squad through the busy streets on a specially decorated truck, proudly displaying the three-star insignia for Ivory Coast’s third AFCON championship. As supporters crowded bridges and avenues, Monday was proclaimed a national holiday to demonstrate the nation’s enthusiastic support for its triumphant football heroes.
The four-hour procession, with considerable police presence, ended at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny stadium. Wearing ‘African champions’ t-shirts, the 2024 AFCON victors conducted a lap of honor in front of a sea of orange-clad spectators, the national color. The atmosphere was fraught with emotion, and the players, overwhelmed by the great reception, showed their immense joy.
Junior Djedjess, a fan present at the celebration, summed up the sentiment: “With three stars, we have now joined the great African nations.”
The feeling represents the team’s incredible journey, which included surviving a difficult group stage that appeared destined for failure.
Following the retirement of experienced French coach Jean-Louis Gasset, Emerse Fae, a former Ivorian international with no coaching experience, took over as coach. Under Fae’s leadership, the squad made an incredible comeback, defeating Senegal and Mali despite the odds.
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Junior Djedjess reflected on the squad’s performance, saying, “After that 4-0 defeat, I was downhearted, but we were still in it, and a new team was born.”
The fairy-tale voyage culminated with a victorious win against Nigeria in the final.
The celebrations will continue on Tuesday, with President Alassane Ouattara receiving the squad.
In the words of Max-Alain Gradel, the veteran captain, “Ivory Coast, here is your African cup. May God bless the Ivory Coast.”