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AFCON 2023 Awards: Troost-Ekong named best player of the tournament

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Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong

Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong was named the best player of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) following his commanding display for Nigeria at the tournament.

Troost-Ekong scored three goals at the tournament, including one in the final, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to guide Nigeria to a fourth AFCON title.

The defender rose high in the 37th minute to head Nigeria in front from a corner kick, but the Eagles were undone by two second-half goals from Frank Kessie and Sebastien Haller, which won the Ivorians their third title after wins in 1992 and 2015.

Troost-Ekong, 31, only missed a game during the tournament. His first goal at the tournament was a penalty, which earned Nigeria a 1-0 win over the hosts in the group stages, while he also added another one from the spot against South Africa in the semi-finals before scoring again during the shootout in that game.

He had scored two goals in his previous appearances at the AFCON (2019 and 2021).

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Meanwhile, South Africa goalkeeper, Ronwen Williams was named the best goalkeeper of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, ahead of Super Eagles keeper Stanley Nwabali.

Williams, who kept five clean sheets and conceded three goals, beat the Nigerian keeper, who let in two goals in the final and three altogether in the tournament, with four clean sheets as well.

Despite being knocked out in the round of 16, no other player could upstage Equatorial Guinea’s Emilio Nsue for the highest goal scorer award, as the five goals he scored during the group stages were enough to hand him the title.

The 34-year-old, who plays as a defender for Intercity in the third-tier of Spanish football, won the hearts of followers of the game following his goal-scoring form in Ivory Coast.

His five goals came in just two games, scoring a hat-trick in their second group game against Guinea-Bissau, becoming the first player in 16 years to do that at the AFCON and the only hat-trick hero at this edition. He then scored twice in the shock 4-0 humiliation of hosts Ivory Coast as the Equatorial Guineans topped Group A.

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