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AFCON 2023: Ivory Coast Victory Serves as ‘Revenge’ for Emerse Fae’s Premature Retirement


Ivory Coast Victory Serves as ‘Revenge’ for Emerse Fae’s Premature Retirement

Ivory Coast’s victory in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) feels like “revenge” for interim coach Emerse Fae, who was forced to retire from playing early due to health issues. Fae, who was named interim coach midway through the tournament, guided the Elephants to a remarkable run through the knockout stages, culminating in a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the final. This victory holds a special significance for Fae, as he had to stop playing at the age of 28 due to vein inflammation issues in his legs. Now, as a manager, he is determined to win every trophy he could not win as a player.

A Fairytale Ending

Ivory Coast’s journey to the AFCON title was filled with dramatic moments. They trailed in their last-16 tie against Senegal and their quarter-final against Mali but managed to score late equalizers in both games before winning on penalties and with a 122nd-minute winner, respectively. In the final against Nigeria, they fell behind but came back in the second half with goals from Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller to seal their third continental title. The victory provided a fairytale ending for both the team and Fae.

A Victory for the Family

Fae’s family played a significant role in his emotional triumph as a senior manager. Although his father was too stressed to travel to Abidjan to witness the final in person, he watched the game on his own at home. Fae’s mother, unfortunately, is no longer alive. However, Fae has many cousins in Ivory Coast who supported him throughout the competition. Their encouragement and support meant a lot to Fae, especially considering the challenges he faced throughout his career and personal life.

How Fae Fixed the “Broken” Elephants

Fae’s appointment as interim coach came after a devastating 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea in Ivory Coast’s final group match. The result left the team on the brink of an embarrassing early exit from the tournament. However, Fae managed to turn things around and revive a squad that was “in disbelief” after that loss. He emphasized the need for unity, solidarity, and a more compact bloc on the pitch. Despite facing strong opponents, such as Senegal in the round of 16, Ivory Coast demonstrated great mental and physical strength to reach the final and lift the trophy.

Ambitions for the Future

Fae’s ambitions extend beyond the AFCON victory. He aims to defend Ivory Coast’s title at the 2025 edition of the tournament in Morocco and has his eyes set on the next FIFA World Cup in 2026. Fae dreams of winning the World Cup, a feat that no African team has achieved yet. He also expressed his desire to bring the team to the upcoming World Cup in North America, as Ivory Coast missed out on the previous edition in Qatar. However, it is uncertain whether Fae will remain in the Ivory Coast dugout as the permanent coach, as discussions about his future were put on hold during the AFCON finals.

In Conclusion

Ivory Coast’s victory in the 2023 AFCON has brought a sense of revenge for Emerse Fae, who was forced to retire early from playing due to health issues. As interim coach, Fae guided the team through a remarkable run in the knockout stages, culminating in a 2-1 win over Nigeria in the final. This victory holds personal significance for Fae, as he aims to win every trophy he did not win as a player. The team’s journey to the title was filled with dramatic moments, showcasing their mental and physical strength. Fae’s ambitions extend beyond the AFCON victory, as he dreams of winning the World Cup and representing Ivory Coast in future tournaments. However, it remains to be seen if he will continue as the team’s coach. Overall, Ivory Coast’s AFCON victory is a testament to Fae’s leadership and the team’s determination.

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