2023 AFCON final preview: Meet the coaches

On Sunday, February 11th, Nigeria is poised to take on Cotê d’Ivoire in the final match of the 2023 TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.

Meet the Coaches in-charge of the Super Eagles and the Elephants.


Guiding the Super Eagles to this prestigious final is Portuguese coach José Peseiro, who assumed the helm two years ago following Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Peseiro’s tenure initially encountered challenges as the team struggled to secure positive results. Despite skepticism from fans, the Nigerian Football Federation stood by their decision to appoint Peseiro, who remained steadfast in his duties.

However, under Peseiro’s leadership, Nigeria witnessed a remarkable transformation. The Portuguese tactician meticulously crafted a formidable Nigerian squad by blending youthful talent with seasoned veterans, instilling a resilient and cohesive team dynamic.

One significant enhancement Peseiro implemented was the inclusion of Stanley Nwabili, whose stellar performances fortified Nigeria’s defensive line.

Now, two years into Peseiro’s tenure, Nigeria finds themselves in the tournament final, boasting the best defensive record having conceded merely two goals throughout the competition.


Emerse Faé, once in the shadow of Jean-Louis Gasset as an assistant coach for the Ivorian national team, has emerged as a central figure in orchestrating the dramatic turnaround of the Elephants’ fortunes in the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

Former Côte d’Ivoire international Emerse Faé’s name has become synonymous with success, as he masterminded the Elephants’ resurgence following a dismal start under French coach Jean-Louis Gasset, whose tenure was marred by disappointing results in the group stage.

Taking the reins from Gasset, Faé navigated the Elephants’ path to redemption, guiding them through a stunning transformation during the knockout stages of the tournament.

Despite facing formidable opponents, including Senegal, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Elephants, qualified as the best third-placed team, swept aside all challengers on their journey to the final.

Now, poised to face Nigeria in the final showdown, Côte d’Ivoire has a chance to avenge their earlier defeat and claim victory under Faé’s leadership.

At just 40 years old, Faé stands on the brink of history, with the opportunity to etch his name into the annals of Ivorian football lore.

Though Faé did not have the chance to participate in previous AFCON finals as a player, his remarkable coaching acumen has endeared him to the Ivorian people, who now hail him as a national hero.

Faé’s own football career was cut short by injuries, but his transition to coaching has been nothing short of remarkable. Beginning with the U19 team at French club Nice in 2012, Faé honed his skills before taking charge of the reserve team at Clermont Foot 63.

In 2022, Faé assumed the role of assistant coach for the Ivorian Elephants under Gasset’s tutelage. However, circumstances thrust him into the spotlight during the home AFCON tournament, where he seized the opportunity to lead his team to the brink of glory.

As Côte d’Ivoire prepares to battle Nigeria in the final, Emerse Faé’s journey from player to coach, and from adversity to triumph, embodies the resilience and determination of the Elephants under his stewardship

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