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Super Eagles: 5 times Nigeria went to the AFCON final and failed to win

Nigeria's national football team, the Super Eagles, has a storied history in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), characterized by moments of triumph as well as heartbreak. While they have clinched the title on three occasions, they have also experienced the agony of defeat in the final four times.

Super Eagles of Nigeria

These moments of near triumph are equally part of the fabric of the team's rich history, showcasing both their consistent competitiveness and the fine margins that often define football at the highest level.

Here's a look at the four times Nigeria went to the AFCON final and came away as runners-up:

1. 1984 AFCON Final - Côte d'Ivoire

Opponent: Cameroon

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Result: Nigeria 1-3 Cameroon

Summary: The 1984 final in Côte d'Ivoire saw Nigeria facing off against Cameroon. The Super Eagles were outmatched by the Indomitable Lions, who claimed their first AFCON title. Despite Nigeria's efforts, Cameroon's strength and experience prevailed, marking the beginning of a rivalry that would define African football for decades.

2. 1988 AFCON Final - Morocco

Opponent: Cameroon

Result: Nigeria 0-1 Cameroon

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Summary: Nigeria encountered Cameroon again in the 1988 AFCON final in Morocco. The match was a tightly contested affair, decided by a single goal that saw Cameroon retain their title. This final further intensified the rivalry between the two nations, with Nigeria again falling just short of the championship.

3. 1990 AFCON Final - Algeria

Opponent: Algeria

Result: Nigeria 0-1 Algeria

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Summary: The 1990 final took place in Algeria, with the host nation taking on Nigeria. Playing in front of a passionate home crowd, Algeria managed to secure a 1-0 victory over the Super Eagles. The narrow defeat was a bitter pill for Nigeria, who had once again come close to the continental crown only to fall at the final hurdle.

4. 2000 AFCON Final - Ghana/Nigeria

Opponent: Cameroon

Result: Nigeria 2-2 Cameroon (2-4 on penalties)

Summary: In 2000, Nigeria, co-hosting the tournament with Ghana, reached the final where they faced Cameroon for the third time in an AFCON final. The match ended 2-2 after extra time, leading to a penalty shootout. Nigeria's dreams of winning on home soil were dashed as Cameroon emerged victorious in the shootout, claiming their third AFCON title. This loss was particularly painful for Nigeria, given the high expectations and the dramatic nature of the defeat.

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  1. 2023 AFCON Final - Cote D'Ivoire

Opponent: Cote D'Ivoire

Result: Nigeria 1-2 Cote D'Ivoire

Summary: Nigeria faced host nation Cote D'Ivoire in the final of the 2023 AFCON tournament in Abidjan. The Super Eagles took the lead in the first half through their captain William Troos Ekong. The Ivorians equalized through Franck Kessie in the second half and got the winner through Sebastien Haller in the dying minutes of the game.

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