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Haller aims to mark cancer comeback in AFCON 2023 final for Ivory Coast


Sebastien Haller Aims to Mark Cancer Comeback in AFCON 2023 Final for Ivory Coast

Sebastien Haller, the striker for Ivory Coast, is set to make a remarkable comeback in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 final against Nigeria. Haller’s goal in the semifinals secured the Elephants’ place in the final and kept alive their chances of winning the tournament. This achievement is even more impressive considering Ivory Coast’s rocky start in the competition, where they were on the brink of elimination in the group stage.

Haller expressed confidence in his team’s potential, stating that they knew they had what it takes to succeed in the tournament. Despite facing initial challenges, they have managed to find their rhythm and perform at their best. Now, they are just one game away from claiming their third continental title.

Haller’s journey to this point has been nothing short of extraordinary. Just over a year ago, he scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund before being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Despite the seriousness of his condition, Haller remained positive and focused on his recovery. After undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy, he made his comeback in January 2023. His goal against Freiburg coincided with World Cancer Day, adding a poignant touch to his return.

Unfortunately, Haller faced another setback when he injured his ankle in December 2022. As a result, he was unable to join the Ivory Coast squad for their first three games in the AFCON. However, his absence highlighted his importance to the team, especially after their disappointing performances in the group stage. The Elephants suffered a heavy defeat against Equatorial Guinea but managed to qualify as the best third-placed side.

Following their difficult start, Ivory Coast made changes within their team, including the dismissal of coach Jean-Louis Gasset. Haller emphasized the importance of those moments and words, which were not easy but necessary. The team’s goal-scoring struggles in the group stage made Haller’s return all the more crucial.

Haller’s impact in the knockout stages has been undeniable. In the round of 16, he played a pivotal role in Ivory Coast’s victory against defending champions Senegal. His physical presence and direct play contributed to the team’s success. He provided a perfectly-weighted through ball to Nicolas Pepe, who won a penalty and helped secure a spot in extra time. In the quarter-finals against Mali, Haller was brought on as a substitute and almost scored the winning goal, hitting the crossbar with a powerful header.

Despite his lack of goals for Dortmund this season, Haller’s international form has been impressive. Before his injury, he scored three goals in three games for Ivory Coast. His goal against DR Congo in the semifinals was a testament to his determination and skill. He volleyed a deep cross into the ground, over the goalkeeper, and just under the bar, breaking the deadlock and sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Haller’s journey from being diagnosed with cancer to playing in the AFCON final is an inspiring story of resilience and triumph. Born in Paris to a French father and Ivorian mother, he represented France at various youth levels before choosing to play for Ivory Coast at the senior level. His decision has paid off, as he has become a key player for the national team.

Now, Haller and Ivory Coast have a chance for redemption as they face Nigeria in the final. Nigeria previously defeated Ivory Coast 1-0 in the group stage, and Haller is determined to seek revenge. As unlikely as it may have seemed after their rocky start, Ivory Coast now has a real chance of winning the Nations Cup title for the first time since 2015.

For Haller, this game holds even greater significance. After his battle with cancer and his remarkable comeback, playing in the AFCON final could be the most memorable moment of his career. It is a testament to his strength and determination, and a celebration of his resilience in the face of adversity.

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