Haller bids to cap remarkable return in Afcon final


Sebastien Haller of Ivory Coast during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-final match between Ivory Coast and DR Congo at Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe on February 7, 2024 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

When Sebastien Haller scored the goal which sent Ivory Coast through to the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, the striker kept alive the Elephants' chances of what had seemed an unlikely triumph and wrote another chapter in his own remarkable story.

Having been on the brink of a group-stage exit and then making dramatic progress to the last four, the West Africans are now one game away from their third continental title.

"We knew we had the potential to succeed and go far in the competition," Haller said after netting the winner against DR Congo on Wednesday.

"The quality on the field is all over. There were lots of things missing from the start of the competition, and we have been trying to find the things that were missing to perform."

The Ivorians will now face Nigeria in the final in Abidjan on Sunday (20:00 GMT) but, in some ways, Haller is lucky to be back on the pitch as a professional.

Just over a year ago Haller scored his first goal for Borussia Dortmund to wild acclaim, as he was buried beneath a sea of yellow-clad team-mates.

The goal came eight months after he had signed for the German club, but the outpouring of emotion was not just that he had finally scored.

For in July 2022, just two weeks after joining the Bundesliga side, Haller was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

"Of course, you realise it is something really serious that is happening, that a lot of things can change," Haller told BBC Sport last year.

"But the urologist helped me not to be scared. He said I could heal well. I took all his words for granted."

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