William Troost-Ekong dreaming of lifting AFCON title

William Troost-Ekong dreaming of lifting AFCON title

When the curtain comes down on the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament tomorrow evening at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigerian national team captain William Troost-Ekong is dreaming of joining an exclusive club of captains, who have lifted this trophy.

Troost-Ekong has played a pivotal role in the Super Eagles getting to their eighth AFCON cup final after beating Bafana Bafana 4-2 on penalties on Wednesday night. Troost-Ekong is hoping to join legends like the late Stephen “Big Boss” Keshi and Joseph Yobo, who have lifted this title before when they play the hosts tomorrow.

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"Yeah, that's what we dream about and what we hear. So, ya, it's not something that's gonna be given now, like you said we're all celebrating, very happy. We’ve got a different game on Sunday again but we've gotta let the dream go," Ekong said.

Born in the Netherlands, to a Dutch mother and Nigerian father, Troost-Ekong who made his debut for the Super Eagles in 2015.

Playing in his third AFCON with the Super Eagles with a bronze medal from 2019, the 30-year-old says a gold medal and lifting the trophy as a skipper is something every footballer dreams about.

"No, you know, you dream about moments like that. I've seen it so many times when I close my eyes but to actually be there on Sunday and have the chance to do that will be amazing," Ekong added.

Ironically, Troost-Ekong had scored the last-minute goal against Bafana Bafana in the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt which took them to the semifinals as they won 2-1. After scoring two penalties against Bafana this week, against a top shot-stopper like South African national team captain Ronwen Williams, he reveals that they had done their homework, after he had stopped four penalties against Cape Verde in the last eight.

"Yeah, you know we've been practising since the start of the tournament for moments like this. Of course, all of us watched that and I think he's been fantastic for them, I think he's been fantastic in the tournament and also made me think twice because I knew he would have watched my penalty against Ivory Coast.

“He probably could have gone back as far as watching the one against Ghana, about a year ago or even longer I'm not sure. So, I tried to do something different and when I got to the penalty shootout, I did something different again.

“I feel comfortable shooting in an all-free pace the goal, down the middle than on the left. So, I'll try and keep surprising them but yeah it's a mental battle."