Emerse Fae, the 40-year-old former international player, has emerged as the best coach, orchestrating a remarkable revival for Côte d’Ivoire. Fae’s journey began when he took over as caretaker coach after the host nation faced a near-elimination following a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria and a crushing 4-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea.
Fae’s impact was immediate and transformative. In the round of 16, he led the Elephants to eliminate defending champion Senegal, setting the stage for a series of incredible triumphs. The quarterfinal clash against Mali witnessed an unbelievable comeback win in extra time, followed by a convincing victory over DR Congo in the semifinal.
The grand finale at the Alhassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan saw the Ivorians stage a breathtaking comeback against favorites Nigeria. William Troost-Ekong had initially put Nigeria ahead, but Franck Kessie’s equalizer in the 62nd minute and Sebastian Haller’s winner from Adingra’s cross secured a historic 2-1 victory for Côte d’Ivoire.
This victory not only marked the Elephants’ third continental title but also etched their name in history as the first tournament hosts to triumph since Egypt in 2006. The journey to the final was laden with challenges, including the departure of coach Jean-Louis Gasset after two defeats in the group stage. However, under Fae’s leadership, Côte d’Ivoire demonstrated resilience, determination, and a style of play that captured the hearts of fans worldwide.
The West Africans’ previous Nations Cup wins in 1992 and 2015 now have a worthy addition, as Fae’s coaching prowess and the team’s spirited performances have solidified their place in football glory. Emerse Fae’s recognition as the Best Coach is not just a personal achievement but a testament to his ability to transform adversity into triumph and lead Côte d’Ivoire to a well-deserved continental victory.