Ivory Coast interim coach Emerse Fae (40) has joined an elite list of Africa Cup of Nations-winning managers just weeks after taking charge of a first senior match when his side beat Nigeria 2-1 in the final in Abidjan.
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.
Emerse Fae’s Career
-Fae played for the European country at the youth level before later on switching 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.
Fae who had been assistant to veteran French coach Jean-Louis Gasset over the last 18 months thrust into the top job when Gasset was sacked at the end of a disastrous group round at the tournament.
The hosts barely scraped into the knockout stage as the last of the best four third-placed finishers after losing two games 1-0 against Nigeria and 4-0 Equatorial Guinea having won only once against Guinea Bissau 2-0.
Ivory Coast fell behind in the showpiece when Nigeria captain William Troost-Ekong headed in a 38th-minute opener in the final but came back to edge it 2-1 thanks to goals from Franck Kessie and Sebastian Haller, Caretaker boss Emerse Fae came out to label this as miracles,
“When I think about all we went through, the hard times when we almost out and the matches where we came back in last minutes, we have created some miracles.”
“We were close to humiliation but when we had a second chance, we were determined not to waste it.”
However Brighton winger Simon Adingra described Ivory Coast’s AFCON triumph as one of the most beautiful moments of my life;
“We did it together – we’re Africa champions and it’s incredible,” said Adingra.
“I’ve just experienced one of the most beautiful moments of my life and that’s down to the effort of everyone in the team.”
With all the talk of goals in circulation, the bigger one was around former West Ham striker Sebastian Haller who in July 2022 was diagnosed with testicular cancer and returned to action at Borussia Dortmund just over a year ago.
Having come into the tournament injured, Haller has managed to score as much as two goals in 150 minutes.
On the otherside, Nigeria head coach Jose Peseiro said:
“ I congratulate Fae! my team is sad but for me they did what they could and I am proud of the way my players performed in this tournament.”
Short list of winners.
Champions: Ivory Coast
•1st Runners Up : Nigeria
•2nd Runners Up : South Africa
•Best Goalkeeper: Ronwen Williams -(South Africa)
•Best Player: William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)
•Golden Boat: Emilio Nsue Lopez
•Fair-Play: South Africa