The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations ended on a disappointing note for Nigeria as the Super Eagles were beaten 2-1 by the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday night.
Franck Kessie and Sebastien Haller scored to hand the trophy to the host at the Alassane Quattara Olympic Stadium in Abidjan.
Nigeria’s dream of lifting the trophy fell short, but the players shone brightly with defender William Troost-Ekong emerging as the best player of the competition.
“Ladies & gentlemen, we present you the TotalEnergies 𝗠𝗮𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗖𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗲𝘁𝗶𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻!
“Incredible run with his nation concludes with the silver medal,” organisers of the competition CAF wrote in a social media post after the 30-year-old was presented with the award.
Towering at the heart of Nigeria’s defense, Ekong, who plays as a centre-back for Super League Greece club PAOK, was a rock throughout the tournament.
His leadership, composure, and crucial tackles were instrumental in guiding the Super Eagles to the final, and beyond that, his three-goal contribution was crucial to the Nigeria national team’s run.
Fondly called Captain Yellow, Troost-Ekong scored Nigeria’s only goal in the final match against Cote d’Ivoire with a header in the first half of the match which the hosts dominated.
He was the highest-scoring defender at the tournament, registering two more goals than teammate and Africa Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen.
The 25-year-old Napoli striker went into the competition as one of the favourites to emerge best player but his goal tally did not match his work rate.