Vanguard (Lagos)

7 February 2013

Nigeria: Afcon 2013 - Super Eagles for Final

Nigeria's Super Eagles established themselves as favourties for the 2013 African Nations Cup , when they emphatically thrashed Mali 4-1 to reach the final of the tournament for the first time in 13 years.

The Eagles proved that their victory over Cote'd Ivoire in the quarter-final was no fluke as they dominated play even as the Malians caused some anxious moments early in the encounter.

Defender Elderson Echiejile opened the scoring with a diving header from a Victor Moses' cross. From then on, it was clear that the Eagles were out to rewrite the script for the Nations Cup.

Brown Ideye confirmed the Super Eagles intention for the game when he swept in a cross from Emmanuel Emenike. Nigeria made it three, after Emenike's shot from a free-kick took a deflection from midfielder Momo Sissoko. And this killed off whatever zeal the Malian Eagles had for the game.

The stunned Malians emerged in the second period with a mountain to climb and captain Seydou Keita could have got one back right at the start of the second half, finding space in the box but firing wide from eight yards.

The Nigerians continued to press and substitute Ahmed Musa, who had replaced Moses minutes earlier, beat the offside trap to fire home under Samassa's body to put the game beyond Mali.

Musa thought he had made it five, when he found the net from close range once more, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Striker Cheick Tidiane Diabate tried to salvage some Malian pride with a shot at the near post, which was smothered by Enyeama, before striker Mahamadou Samassa's close-range effort was palmed away by the Maccabi Tel Aviv keeper.

At the closing stage of the game, Emenike was forced to retire after he over stretched himself to take a shot at goal.

It was not all good news for Nigeria through as livewire strikers Victor Moses and Emenike - who has scored four goals at these finals - both went off injured, although their substitutions were likely to have been precautionary.

However, coach Stephen Keshi stated that Emenike and Moses will undergo scans to see if they will be fit for the final match on Sunday.

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