AFCON final: Which five players based in Italy could feature when Ivory Coast host Nigeria
Five Serie A players could be in line to feature in the Africa Cup of Nations final between Nigeria and Ivory Coast on Sunday, including Napoli’s leading goalscorer Victor Osimhen and star Roma center-back Evan Ndicka, Peter Young reports for Football Italia.
The AFCON final contenders were decided Wednesday night after Nigeria defeated South Africa on penalties in one semi-final. At the same time, Ivory Coast defeated DR Congo 1-0 thanks to a second-half strike from Borussia Dortmund’s Sebastian Haller.
The final will kick-off at 20.00 GMT on Sunday evening at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe in Abidjan.
Though Ivory Coast holds the home advantage, bookmakers currently have Nigeria down as the narrow favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the weekend. Nigeria rose to a 1-0 victory when the two teams met in the Group Stages in January.
Up to five Serie A representatives could take to the field on Sunday, three for Nigeria and two for Ivory Coast.
Those are Victor Osimhen of Napoli, who has scored once and provided two assists from his six appearances for Nigeria in the competition thus far.
Even more productive in front of goal has been Atalanta forward Ademola Lookman. The South London-born attacker has netted three goals and an assist for the Super Eagles.
Milan’s summer signing, Samuel Chukwueze, could also appear in the final. He has been called upon as a starter in two matches and has appeared off the bench on three more occasions in the tournament.
Evan Ndicka is expected to start at center-back for Ivory Coast, as he has done in every game. The Roma defender has helped his nation concede just three goals in their last four matches.
Finally, there could also be an opportunity for Fiorentina attacker Christian Kouame, who has been in and out of the Ivory Coast side since the beginning of the tournament.
He has three starts to his name thus far, including the final two Group Stage matches and the quarter-final against Mali, which was won 2-1 thanks to a 122nd-minute goal from Oumar Diakite.