in

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

The Nigeria vs Ivory Coast AFCON final is the climax of the 34th edition of Africa’s grandest football competition.

Sunday’s final between the hosts, the Elephants and the Super Eagles will see soccer stars who could have starred in the final cheering from abroad.

Both teams first squared up in the group stages with Nigeria claiming a 1-0 win over the hosts through a Williams Troost-Ekong penalty following a foul on Victor Osimhen.

Ivory Coast are in the first final since winning the trophy in 2015. On the other hand, Nigeria are making a final appearance since a dramatic win back in 2013.
 
Sunday’s final promises the biggest of crackers judging from how much entertainment the 2023 AFCON has brought soccer fans across the continent and beyond.

AFCON Final: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Prediction, Head-to-Head, Line-ups

Below, Daily Report Nigeria looks at 14 football stars who could have lined up for the epic final but are either representing one European powerhouse or the other; or are yet to be called up for duty.

15 Players Who Could Have Been in the AFCON Final

1. Bukayo Saka (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Saka has persistently followed the Africa Cup of Nations closely and praised Nigeria for defeating South Africa in the semi-finals on Wednesday.

The Arsenal star was born in Ealing, west London, to Yoruba parents; Adenike and Yumi from Nigeria.

“I feel like I’m really, really proud of my Nigerian heritage. I always still watch Nigeria’s games where I can, and I wish them all the best and support them all the way”, Saka said back in 2020 before deciding to represent Englan.

ATTENTION: Click HERE to join our WhatsApp group and receive News updates directly on your WhatsApp!

Still, the decision to represent the Three Lions has not stopped Saka from expressing affection for his country of origin.
 
The star recently made multiple trips to Nigeria and even carried out intervention schemes for less privileged children.
 
One can only imagine how much trouble he would have caused the Ivorian defense. What a miss for Nigeria.

2. Jamal Musiala (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Musiala is another big miss for the Super Eagles after the Bayern star chose to represent Germany over England and Nigeria.

Born to a British-Nigerian father and German mother in Stuttgart, the midfielder rejected the chance to wear the Green-White-Green jersey when he was approached by the Glass House in 2020.

Explaining his choice of country in 2023, Musiala said: “I could have played for Nigeria because it crossed my mind, and I thought about it well. I had good talks with Nigeria and Germany. So it really just came down to me and where I’d feel the most comfortable. So I decided to go with Germany.”

3. David Alaba (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

The giant Real Madrid defender said not being invited by football authorities in the West African country was a reason for opting to represent his country of birth.

The Austrian star said he nurtured an ambition to wear the Super Eagles colors back in 2007 but his path was blocked by a cheer lack of reception by the Glass House.

“I wanted to play for Nigeria but I must confess that there was no formal approach for me…I got the information that Nigeria will only consider those who were in the country perhaps because of travelling logistics, and that is the end of that” Alaba said in 2013.

4. Tammy Abraham (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Like Saka, Abraham has consistently showed support for the Super Eagles in this AFCON.

The striker’s Nigerian father is close friends with former Nigerian Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, who prematuredly announced that the former Chelsea star would be dorning the Nigerian jersey.

Instead, Abraham went public in 2017 to deny the claim before going on to say “I was pretty set on England really. Playing in the Premier League meant it would be nice to play in the England team as well. It was flattering [that Nigeria wanted me], but for me my main focus was here.

5. Fikayo Tomori (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Like Abraham, Fikayo graduated from the Chelsea academy and was destined for big things. 

The current AC milan defender was eligible to represent either of England, Nigeria or Canada.

He went on to describe accepting to represent the Three Lions as one of the biggest decisions of his life.

6. Manuel Akanji (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

The Man City defender Akanji shares a similar storyline with Alaba.

The Swiss international claims he never received a call from Nigeria despite being eligible to represent them through his father.

The defender was born in Neftenbach, Switzerland, to a Swiss mother and had been touted to play for Nigeria before ultimately choosing the country of his birth.

“Nigeria never called me to play. There was no question where I should play because Switzerland asked me if I wanted to play for them. I heard nothing from Nigeria. So it was my decision,” Akanji said in 2018.

7. Eberechi Eze (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Another London-bred, Eze was touted to have accepted to represent Nigeria before choosing to play for England. 

“[It was] more just speaking to the people around me, my family, my wife, getting good advice from the people around, trying to think what is the best decision for myself and my career”, the midfielder said.

8. Karim Adeyemi (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Like Musiala, Adeyemi chose to represent Germany over Nigeria.

Born in the Bavarian city of Munich to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother, he made his senior debut in 2021, but that has not stopped him from creating a charitable foundation back in Nigeria.

“I think I have my roots here. My father is from here, and his heart is still here in Nigeria. Of course, my heart is also here in Nigeria.

“[There is] a story of how I came here to Nigeria. I saw the kids playing football on the street, and I played with them. It’s a small story, but it touched my heart all my life. So I try to give something back to the community,” Adeyemi told Soccernetng during a visit in January.

9. Noni Madueke (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Another Chelsea star, Madueke shared support for Nigeria after the AFCON semi-final triumph ove South Africa.

He was a key member of the Englad setup that won the U21 European Championship in the summer.

Interestingly, the midfieler is very much eligiblefor selection into the Super Eagles team..

10. Dominic Solanke (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

The in-form Bournemouth striker is another player very  much eligible to play for Nigeria – and one they might have a real chance of convincing aged 26.

He has one appearance for the Three Lions albeith an international friendly against Brazil.

Solanke is reported to be wiling to represent Nigeria at the 2026 FIFA World Cup if called upon.

11. Curtis Jones (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Jones is also very much eligible to represent Nigeria but that appears to be unrealistic judging his form for Liverpool this season.

The Reds midfielder has a Nigerian grandmother but has represented England through all age grades.

12. Folarin Balogun (Nigeria)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Bolagun could have represented any of Nigeria or England just as he was eligible to play for the United States.

The Monaco forward settled for the Yankees after so much back and forth between the USMT and Three Lions.

Since making the switch to the USMNT, Balogun has scored three goals in eight appearances.

13. Serge Gnabry (Ivory Coast)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

The Bayern Munich star was also born in Stuttgart to an Ivorian and a German mother.

While his father’s nation made frantic efforts to secure his allegiance, the winger explained that his ties to the country of his birth were simply too strong.

He told Goal.com;

“The Ivorian association contacted me and asked for a meeting to convince me to play for their senior national team, but it was always clear to me: I was born and raised here in Germany, I played for almost all of the DFB and youth national teams, so I also want to play for the German senior national team.

“That also means home for me. My father is from there and most of my family still lives there. I’ve been there a few times and, if time permits, I want to visit more often.”

14. Wesley Fofana (Ivory Coast)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Born in the south of France in Marseille, Fofana’s father is Ivorian.

The Elephants reportedly tried to convince the centre-back to switch allegiances back in 2022, prior to his call up to the French national team.

The defender later explained his reasons for choosing France over Ivory Coast:

“France provided my education. It’s the choice of the heart. I had discussions with the Ivory Coast coach, but above all I am French, I was born in France, I had my education here. So, for sure, the choice is not easy. When we see the enthusiasm, we ask ourselves questions, but I am French, it’s a logical choice, a normal choice. I chose France because that’s what was deep inside me .”

15. Marc Guehi (Ivory Coast)

Nigeria vs Ivory Coast: Saka, Alaba and 13 Stars That Could Have Started AFCON Final

Guehi was born in the Ivorian capital city of Abidjan before moving to south London just aged one.

He  was on the  Elephants’ radar for quite some time before receiving a senior England call-up in 2022, with then-manager Patrice Beaumelle saying: “I tried to contact him several weeks ago before his decision.

“When I saw him in the English lists I understood that at the moment he wants to try with the Three Lions. Since he went to Crystal Palace he has improved a lot and he could be an option. But the choice has to come from the heart. He will make his own decision.”

However, while he was still eligible thereafter having only appeared in friendlies, he has since become a fixture in Southgate’s squad.

Leave a Reply

Ruggedman Afrobeat

Ruggedman Exposes Dark Truth Behind Afrobeats

Ashmusy in Distress

Ashmusy in Distress: Skitmaker Accidentally Sends N1 Million to Fan, Pleads for Return