Afcon 2023: Grand finale awaits between hosts Ivory Coast and Nigeria

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Forced to quit playing at the age of 28 because of vein inflammation issues in his legs, Fae was part of the Ivorian side that finished runners-up in 2006, a campaign in which he played every minute.

He will now try to ensure the two-time champions score their first goal in a Nations Cup final, with their four previous appearances in the continent’s showpiece football finale all going to penalties after ending goalless.

With the Ivorians’ six goals all having been scored by different players, Fae will hope that the revitalised Sebastien Haller – who scored the semi-final winner in the striker’s first start at the finals – can continue to impress following his month-long lay-off with an ankle injury.

“Since December, I’ve been working hard with the physios to be here,” said the 29-year-old, who returned to football just over a year ago after battling back from testicular cancer. “I feel the pressure as a striker, it’s a big responsibility but that’s how football works.

“Playing in front of our people gives us the motivation to perform, and I hope this good pressure will help the team. The last two years have been tough and challenging for me. When you see everything that has happened, it’s great to be here and on Sunday I’ll enjoy it.”

Having had to cope without four suspended players in the semi-finals, Fae will have the rarity of being able to select from a near full-strength squad on Sunday – when he says he is prepared for whatever eventuality this most unpredictable of Nations Cup may have left to offer.

“The main lesson we’ve drawn at this competition is that you have to expected the unexpected,” said a man who could win the continent’s most prestigious tournament in only his fourth game in charge.

Viewers in the UK can watch coverage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final on BBC Three, iPlayer and BBC Sport online from 19:30 GMT on Sunday.


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