The Observer (Kampala)

8 February 2013

Uganda: Here Is Why It's Nigeria's Nations Cup to Lose

Whether it is true that Caf tried to push through a Ghana/Nigeria final going by the controversial referee Slim Jedidi's decisions against Burkina Faso on Wednesday night, it is something we will never know for sure.

But one thing for certain is that Nigeria and Burkina Faso will contest the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) final. And going by the look of things, Nigeria are outright favourites to win a third Nations Cup title. Of course it will be nice to get a new winner like we had Zambia last year. But Burkina Faso, unlike Zambia, who were armed to the teeth against Ivory Coast in the 2012 final, go into this final with Nigeria heavily disarmed.

The unfair dismissal of Burkina Faso's lead talisman, Jonathan Pitroipa means that they will have no creative spark and forward spearhead to ask Nigeria a few troubling questions. If you remember, it was Pitroipa's darting run-and-cut-back pass in their opening group fixture against Nigeria that let in Alain Traore with a late equaliser against Nigeria.

But that isn't all. He has been the light and shining armour of the team since Alain was ruled out of this tournament following the hamstring he pulled against Zambia. Together with Charles Kabore, they have formed a trident that has pushed them thus far. Not to say that the back-line of Bakary Kone and Paul Keba has been wanting.

Up to this point, because of their solidity, they have only conceded two goals. Unless Caf reverses Pitroipa's red card, it is difficult to see Aristide Bance, scorer of their goal against Ghana and skipper Moumoni Dagano, carry the nations hopes to fruition. Against this, Nigeria have this Cup to lose. The run of form they are enjoying is a reflection of the team ethos they have showcased.

Their defence; Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echijile, among others, is really good. Little would separate them from Burkina Faso. Probably the same would be said of the midfield. While Obi Mikel is more high profile being that he plays for the Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, Djakaridja Kone, Burkina Faso's holding midfielder that plies his trade at Evian in the French Ligue 1 isn't one to look down onto in midfield.

In a way, Burkina Faso and Nigeria will cancel each other out in that area. That said, Nigeria's front-line of Victor Moses and most especially Emmanuel Emenike is so swift and clinical. That is why it is difficult to see Burkina Faso prevail, yet if they do, it will inspire so many other small footballing nations with as little history as the Burkinabe.

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