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AFCON Final: Nigeria vs Ivory Coast Combined XI

The Africa Cup of Nations will be decided this weekend when Nigeria take on host nation Ivory Coast for the right to be crowned continental champions.

Each side navigated tough semi-finals to reach the decider at The Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, in what is expected to be a tight contest after a narrow group stage encounter earlier in the competition.

For hosts Ivory Coast, it has been a staggering tournament after sacking head coach Jean-Louis Gasset after the group stage, with caretaker Emerse Faé leading Les Elephants to the final.

Ahead of the AFCON final, we’ve chosen our combined XI from the two squads.

Goalkeeper: Stanley Nwabali – Nigeria

One of the surprise packages of the tournament, Stanley Nwabali was named Nigeria’s number one ahead of the established Francis Uzoho and has rewarded the faith of head coach Jose Peseiro.

Nwabili has conceded just two goals in six games and was the hero of the semi-final shootout win over South Africa, saving two penalties. His heroics came much to the frustration of the South Africans, where Nwabili currently plays his club football for Chippa United.

Right-back: Wilfried Singo – Ivory Coast

Wilfried Singo is expected to start at right-back for the Ivorians, following an impressive semi-final performance. The 23-year-old has started just three of the Ivory Coast’s six games but shone in the 1-0 win over DR Congo in the last four.

Singo signed for AS Monaco from Torino in the summer.

Centre-back: William Troost-Ekong – Nigeria

The former Watford defender has had a strong tournament for the Super Eagles, whose run to the final has been built on a strong defensive record. Nigeria have conceded only twice in six games and Troost-Ekong, who left Watford to sign for PAOK in the summer, has been central to that.

The Nigeria captain has scored twice in the tournament, including a penalty in the semi-final win over South Africa. He also stepped up a second time to convert in the shootout against Bafana Bafana.

Centre-back: Calvin Bassey – Nigeria

Calvin Bassey’s commanding performances have contributed to the Super Eagles’ defensive strength, with the Fulham centre-back leading AFCON for tackles won.

A formidable physical presence who brings balance to the left side of Nigeria’s back three, Bassey has built on an impressive debut season in the Premier League with a strong tournament for the national team. As a result, he will be key to their bid to win AFCON for the first time since 2013.

Left-back: Ola Aina – Nigeria

One of several Premier League stars representing Nigeria at the tournament, Aina has worked tirelessly at wing-back for the Super Eagles.

The Nottingham Forest defender was fortunate to see Nigeria progress to the final on penalties after blazing his shootout spot-kick over the bar, in what would have been a cruel moment for a player who has performed admirably during the tournament. Only three players have won more tackles than the Chelsea academy graduate.

Midfield: Franck Kessie – Ivory Coast

Franck Kessie is a headline name in the Ivory Coast team and produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 1-0 semi-final win over DR Congo. The all-action midfielder left European football in the summer to sign for Saudi side Al-Ahli, after spells with AC Milan and Barcelona.

The 27-year-old has stepped up when it mattered for Les Elephants in the knockout rounds, scoring a pressure penalty against holders Senegal in the last eight, and is bidding to add the AFCON title to Serie A and La Liga title wins.

Midfield: Seko Fofana – Ivory Coast

Seko Fofana partners Kessie in midfield for the Ivory Coast, in an engine room packed full of physical presence and technical quality.

Fofana opened the scoring at the finals with an early goal against Guinea-Bissau in the group stage and will hope to conclude it with a winner’s medal this weekend. The 28-year-old was an influential performer in Lens’ run to Champions League qualification last season, before a summer switch to the Saudi Pro League.

Midfield: Alex Iwobi – Nigeria

Alex Iwobi adds midfield craft to our AFCON final Combined XI, with the Fulham midfielder among the most experienced names in the Nigeria squad. Having represented England at youth level, Iwobi switched his allegiance to Nigeria in 2015 and has since won 74 caps for the Super Eagles.

He is aiming to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha, in winning AFCON with Nigeria.

Forward: Ademola Lookman – Nigeria

Ademola Lookman has been a driving force in Nigeria’s run to the final and is the Super Eagles’ leading scorer at the tournament with three goals.

Lookman scored twice in the 2-0 last-16 win over Cameroon and the only goal of the game as Angola were beaten in the quarter-finals. The London-born winger has thrived since deciding to leave the Premier League and has scored 22 goals in 56 appearances across the last 18 months for Italian side Atalanta.

Forward: Sebastien Haller – Ivory Coast

Sebastian Haller’s return to fitness is a massive boost for the Ivory Coast with the forward scoring the winner in the 1-0 semi-final win over DR Congo.

Haller has endured a frustrating campaign at club level after falling out of favour at Borussia Dortmund but booked the Ivorians a place in the final with a volley. The 29-year-old, who has scored nine times for Les Elephants since declaring for the Ivory Coast, will be one to watch in Sunday’s showpiece.

Forward: Victor Osimhen. – Nigeria

Victor Osimhen has failed to light up the tournament as hoped with only one goal to date, but Nigeria’s leading light has the chance to cement his place in Super Eagles history this weekend.

The reigning African Footballer of the Year is regarded as one of world football’s elite centre-forwards, having fired Napoli to Serie A title success last season.

Osimhen also boasts a prolific record for Nigeria and has scored 21 goals in 34 appearances for the national team. He could level Segun Odegbami as the second-highest goalscorer in Nigeria’s history with a goal in Sunday’s final.

Read – Ranking the five best strikers in the world right now

See more – The five full-backs with the most goal involvements in Europe’s top five leagues

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