Saturday February 24, 2024

Celebrations erupt in Ivory Coast as nation accords warm welcome to AFCON champions

Celebrations in Ivory Coast followed remarkable triumph the night before, as the Elephants secured third AFCON title with a 2-1 final win over Nigeria

By Web Desk
February 13, 2024
Ivory Coast on their AFCON victory parade. — AFP
Ivory Coast on their AFCON victory parade. — AFP 

Tens of thousands of exuberant fans converged on the streets of Abidjan to celebrate Ivory Coast's remarkable triumph in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in a spectacular display of national pride and jubilation. 

The electrifying victory parade unfolded on Monday, following the nail-biting final against Nigeria that culminated in a 2-1 win.

Sebastien Haller, the hero of the night with the decisive goal, led the team through the lively streets atop a specially adorned truck, proudly displaying the three-star sign symbolising Ivory Coast's third AFCON title. As fans lined bridges and avenues, Monday was declared a special holiday, showcasing the nation's fervent support for their victorious football heroes.

The festive four-hour parade, under heavy police escort, culminated at the Felix Houphouët-Boigny stadium. Wearing 'African champions' t-shirts, the 2024 AFCON champions took a lap of honour amidst a sea of orange-clad fans, the national colour. The atmosphere was charged with emotion, and players, moved by the warm welcome, expressed their overwhelming pride.

Junior Djedjess, a fan present at the celebration, encapsulated the sentiment: "With three stars, we have now joined the great African nations." 

The sentiment reflects the team's astonishing journey, overcoming a challenging group stage that initially seemed destined for disappointment.

The turnaround in fortunes began with the appointment of Emerse Fae, a former Ivorian international with no coaching experience, after the departure of veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset. Under Fae's guidance, the team staged a remarkable comeback, defeating Senegal and Mali against the odds.

Reflecting on the team's performance, Junior Djedjess noted, "After that 4-0 defeat, I was downhearted, but we were still in it, and a new team was born." 

The fairy-tale journey reached its pinnacle with the triumphant victory over Nigeria in the final.

The celebrations are set to continue, with the team scheduled to be received by President Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday. 

In the words of Max-Alain Gradel, the veteran captain, "Ivory Coast, here is your African cup. May God bless the Ivory Coast."