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1 - 2
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Nigeria
Côte d'Ivoire
W. Troost-Ekong (38)
F. Kessié (62), S. Haller (81)

Haller ahead of AFCON Final: "I feel the pressure."

By Peter Weis   @PeterVicey

Speaking at a Saturday pre-match presser, Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller commented on what it felt like to carry the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders ahead of tomorrow's Africa Cup of Nations Final in Abidjan.

AFCON 2023 concludes with a re-match between two African giants who already met in group stage play. Group A members Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire cross paths again in pursuit of the continental title. 
Sebastien Haller
Sebastien HallerEffathéophile105
The striker responsible for shooting his hosting AFCON nation into tomorrow's Final against Nigeria openly admitted that he felt even greater pressure to deliver in front of a 60,000-strong packed house of Ivorians tomorrow at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan. Borussia Dortmund forward Sebastien Haller - speaking at a Saturday pre-match presser ahead of the game - nevertheless spoke of "positive pressure" when it came to the matter of representing his country and thanked his Ivorian comrades from continuing to support him through his latest bout with adversity.


Haller's tournament initially mirrored that of his disappointing German club campaign. Injuries precluded the 29-year-old from logging a single minute during the group stage. Cote d'Ivoire's historic loss in their final group stage fixture rendered it questionable that Haller would even get a chance to play for his country in the current competition. The hosts of the continental showpiece only escaped the group phase as the last third-placed team permitted to pass. Les Elephants fired trainer Jean-Louis Gasset just prior to the knockouts.

"It wasn't easy for me, especially at the beginning," Haller remarked at a Saturday presser, "I came here and I couldn't play. Luckily, I had my family and friends, as well was an entire country that supported me."

"We all have to bear the pressure," Haller continued when asked about the task ahead, "I simply wish to seize the opportunity leave the regrets behind. I just want to enjoy it."

"For me, it's a big moment to sit here and speak before an AFCON Final," Haller concluded, "It will take months or years for me to fully process what's happening now."

Ivorian interim trainer Emerse Faé also attend ended the press conference, noting that getting Haller back constituted "the return of one of our greatest weapons." Faé remained an assistant to Gassett when Nigeria bested Cote d'Ivoire 1-0 in the second Group A fixture.


Faé declared that he and his staff would be better prepared for the "Super Eagles" in the Final. The Ivorian trainer can also call upon another qualified Bundesligst who missed the first Nigerian match in the Final. Leverkusen defender Odilon Kossounou returns from a suspension incurred in the quarters.

Both Haller and Kossounou featured in Faé's debut match in the Round-of-16. African footballing enthusiasts could hardly hope for a better match-up in tomorrow's Final. Nigeria (the 2013 AFCON champs) square off against the country that took the title two years later.



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