Unprecedented! Emerse Faé Makes History in AFCON. The coach of Ivory Coast took over the team in the round of 16, and in four matches, he made the ‘Elephants’ champions. No one had done it before.
Ivory Coast is the new champion of the AFCON. Who would have thought that the “Elephants” would achieve this after finishing a disastrous group stage as the last best third-placed team? And who would have thought that Emerse Faé, from that moment on, would take the reins of the team and turn it into the king of Africa?
The luck of both Ivory Coast and Emerse Faé was about to change right then, after being humiliated by Equatorial Guinea with a 0-4 defeat. That loss seemed to be the end for the hosts, perhaps why they fired their coach, Frenchman Jean-Louis Gasset, even before knowing if they were definitively out of the tournament.
Then came a series of results that would classify them for the round of 16 with the last available ticket, that of the fourth best third-placed team. Just in time, but they were in. Emerse Faé then emerged to take Gasset’s place.
The challenge was immense. Ivory Coast faced Senegal, champions of the previous edition, in the round of 16. Seeing how both teams arrived, it seemed impossible for the “Elephants” to reach the quarter-finals, but appearances can be deceiving. They drew in the 86th minute, forced extra time, and knocked out the champion in penalties.
Ivory Coast went from the brink of elimination to being crowned champions of the Africa Cup of Nations. This message from the young winger is a must-watch.
In the quarter-finals, they pushed even further with a goal in the 90th minute that forced extra time and another in the second minute of extra time to finally defeat Mali.
In the semifinals, they defeated DR Congo, and in the final, they staged an epic comeback against Nigeria to win the AFCON. Four matches to start from scratch and touch the sky. That’s where Emerse Faé has led Ivory Coast, also becoming the first coach to win the Africa Cup of Nations without having started the tournament in charge of the team. As unusual as it is historic.
According to BBC, Gasset was shown the door just two days after he led Ivory Coast to a 4-0 defeat against Equatorial Guinea, in what was the country’s heaviest loss on home soil.
The hammering left the Elephants with slim hopes of progressing to the knockouts, having also lost to Nigeria in another Group A fixture.
Emerse Fae leads Ivory Coast to glory
With little to no experience in football management, Fae emerged as Ivory Coast’s unlikely hero at the tournament as he helped his country win the continental showpiece in dramatic fashion.
The Elephants stunned Nigeria 2-1 in the final played on Sunday night to win the tournament for the third time in their history.
Who is Emerse Fae?
But who is Emerse Fae, Ivory Coast’s unlikely hero in the 2023 AFCON?
Born in 1984 in France, Fae played for the European country at the youth level before he switched his allegiance to Ivory Coast.
At the club level, the 40-year-old played for Nantes before moving to Reading in 2007, per CAF.
He would later return to France with Nice, where he wound up his career in 2012 after making 57 appearances for the French club.
The former midfielder transitioned into football management upon retirement, taking charge of the Clermont reserve team in 2021.
Ivory Coast, “Unprecedented! Emerse Faé Makes History with Ivory Coast in AFCON,” beIN SPORTS, 2024, https://www.beinsports.com/en-us/soccer/africa-cup-of-nations/articles-video/unprecedented-emerse-fa%C3%A9-makes-history-in-afcon-2024-02-12.