• Nigeria’s loss went viral on social media with South African, Ghana and Angolan fans trolling the three-time champions.
• Iwobi played the better part of the game but was substituted in the 79th minute for Al Hassan, just two minutes before Ivory Coast scored the winner.
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has come to the rescue of midfielder Alex Iwobi who’s been targeted for trolling by home fans following Nigeria's 1-2 loss to hosts Cote d’Ivoire in the 2023 Afcon final.
Nigeria’s loss went viral on social media with South African, Ghana and Angolan fans trolling the three-time champions.
But back home in Nigeria, home fans singled out Fulham midfielder Alex Iwobi and blamed him for the loss.
Iwobi played the better part of the game but was substituted in the 79th minute for Al Hassan, just two minutes before Ivory Coast scored the winner.
Most felt that the midfielder should have done more on the pitch before he was taken off.
But Musa, who was part of Nigeria’s 2013 Afcon winning squad, said it was unfair for the home fans to pick on Iwobi and blame him wholly for the country’s loss at the continental showcase.
“Dear fans, I want to please urge you to halt the cyber-bullying directed towards Alex Iwobi. Cyberbullying is not just a violation of decency but also a serious crime,” Musa said in a statement on X Monday evening.
“It's hypocritical to claim that football unites us while engaging in such behaviour. Losing a game is undoubtedly tough, but targeting a single player for the team's shortcomings is unfair and unjust. We win as a team, and we lose as a team,” he added.
Musa said Iwobi gave his all on the pitch just like the entire squad and urged the home fans to show him and his colleagues love and support.
“They need our encouragement now more than ever. Let's uplift each other and stand united, both in victory and defeat,” Musa said.
Musa who plays as a forward and left winger for Turkish Süper Lig club Sivasspor was named in the Nigerian squad for Afcon by Coach Jose Peseiro's but did not play.
Nigeria had taken the lead during the Sunday evening Africa Cup of Nations final in the 38th minute through William Troost-Ekong's header but Franck Kessie drew things level in the 62nd minute with a superb header.
Just two minutes after Iwobi was pulled off, Sebastian Haller scored the inner for Ivory Coast in the 81st minute to hand the Elephants their third title in the competition on home soil.
Ivory Coast and Nigeria are now levels with both countries having lifted the Afcon trophy on three occasions.
Ivory Coast were winner of the 1992 and 2015 editions while Nigeria lifted the title in 1980, 1994 and 2013.