In a sensational turn of events, tournament hosts Cote d'Ivoire pulled off a major upset by defeating defending champions Senegal 5-4 on penalties. The dramatic last-16 clash, which ended 1-1, saw the Elephants secure a spot in the 2023 AFCON quarter-finals.
Defying expectations, Cote d'Ivoire faced a formidable Senegal side, with the Teranga Lions taking an early lead through Habib Diallo's 4th-minute strike. However, the spirited hosts, led by captain Serge Aurier, fought valiantly in front of their passionate home fans in Yamoussoukro.
Cote d'Ivoire managed to equalize in the 86th minute from the penalty spot, with Franck Kessie calmly converting after a foul in the Senegal box. With the scores still level after extra time, the match progressed to a high-stakes penalty shootout.
Despite being considered underdogs, Cote d'Ivoire showcased resilience and determination in the penalty shootout. The Elephants emerged victorious with a 5-4 scoreline, eliminating the defending champions and securing a place in the quarter-finals.
Following the thrilling victory, Cote d'Ivoire midfielder Jean-Michael Seri expressed satisfaction with the team's performance. Despite acknowledging a challenging start to the match, Seri highlighted the team's response and control, emphasizing the importance of the qualification to the quarter-finals.
Seri, awarded the TotalEnergies Man of the Match, stated, “It doesn't matter how we qualified, what matters is that we qualified.” The midfielder emphasized the team's calmness, unity, and collective effort to secure the crucial advancement.