Ivory Coast won the Africa Cup of Nations for the third time, with BVB professional Sebastien Haller taking center stage. He overcame cancer in the final against Nigeria in a 2–1 win.
Abidjan. Like Qatar in the Asian Cup, the host football team won the Africa Cup of Nations. Ivory Coast is celebrating a striker who beat cancer and is now shooting his football country with joy: Dortmund star Sebastien Haller broke down in tears when a reporter hugged him on the pitch as he cried. He scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 Africa Cup of Nations final against Nigeria, the third title in this continental championship – which is the European Football Championship (from June 14 in Germany) – after 1992 and 2015. Year country host fixed. This victory created a sensation in the world of football. “Haller-luja!” England icon Gary Lineker wrote on X.
Many observers recall the special story of the 29-year-old who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 2022, shortly after Ajax moved from Amsterdam to Dortmund. After months of treatment, Haller returned to the field. His goals and assists helped BVB make a stunning comeback in the second half of last season.
But just when the championship seemed almost certain, the striker's nerves failed him. His missed penalty in matchday 34 against Mainz (2-2) contributed to the missed title – while Haller's game at Dortmund began its decline. He has only started four Bundesliga games so far this season and has not scored a goal in eleven games in total. He is currently shining for Ivory Coast.
Assistant coach as mentor
The lost championship hurt him more than the cancer diagnosis, he told “Sportbild” in the fall. “Failure situations or missed opportunities hit you. You think about what you could have done better. But especially during my illness, I've also learned not to let negative things get to me too much.
Despite his BVB woes, Haller impressed at the Africa Cup of Nations. He was allowed to start only in the semi-final (1-0) against the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the final, although he scored the decisive goal twice. And his story matches the host's maddening run of form after a 4-0 opening-round defeat against Equatorial Guinea that saw them almost eliminated. Ivory Coast luckily managed to finish third in the group, sacking team captain Jean-Louis Casset and replacing him with interim team captain Emers Fay. The “Elephants” battled their way through the knockout stages to the final via a penalty shootout or a last-minute goal, and have now clinched an unexpected crown in a crazy tournament full of drama and twists. .
Ivory Coast became the first hosts to win the Africa Cup of Nations since Egypt in 2006.