8 February 2013

Nigeria/Burkina Faso: Afcon Title Is Nigeria?s to Lose

Only Burkina Faso stand in the way of Nigeria's Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi from becoming only the second man to win the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and coach.

That proud record is held by Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary, who won the title in 1959 as a player, and in 1998, as coach of the Pharaohs. Keshi, once a target for Amavubi Stars' coaching job when he left Mali after Afcon Angola 2010, was the captain when Nigeria won their last African title in 1994 and would be a proud man if he indeed manages to equal El Gohary's record.

It will be a great achievement not only for Keshi, who was piped to the Amavubi job by the man currently in charge Milutin 'Micho' Sredojovic, but also his country, which no one gave a chance to reach this far, let alone winning the competition.

Keshi's star has been steadily rising over the years since, against all odds, he took Togo to the 2006 World Cup in Germany for the first time in the country's history.

Keshi's team played their best football of the tournament thus far in their 4-1 demolition of Mali in the semi-final on Wednesday, and they will need some really stopping in the final on Sunday at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

Burkina Faso, who deservedly eliminated favourites Ghana in the other semi-final, will have their hands full when they contest their first ever Afcon final.

The more surprise package of the two finalists, Burkina Faso will be unlucky to be without their two top players Alain Traore and Jonathan Pitroipa.

Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi made several controversial calls against Burkina Faso, including a soft penalty for Ghana, turning down a clear penalty claim by the Stallions, a disallowed Stallions goal, and Pitroipa's dismissal.

None the less, only Nigerian players can stop their team from a third African title in-form striker Emmanuel Emenike, winger Musa Hasan, midfielder Obi Mikel and goalkeeper Vincent Eyeama, the Super Eagles have the foundation for real great team to finish off the job on Sunday.

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