Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

7 February 2013

Nigeria's Come Back

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are just one step towards accomplishing their dream to lift the African title for the third time and seal their return to the continent's big club. Though a pre-tournament favourite, few people saw Nigeria reaching the finals especially as the squad is under re-construction. However, new breed of players defied al forecasts as they walloped Mali 4-1 to qualify for their 6th nation's cup final.

Like a diesel engine that gathers steam as time progresses, Nigeria started the campaign timidly with a 1-1 draw with their future opponents at the final, Burkina Faso. They went on to pull a second 1-1 draw against the defending champions, Zambia and beat newcomer Ethiopia 2-0 in their third group game to emerge second in Group C.

Many football pundits thought it would be the end of the road for Nigeria especially as they had to face Cote d'Ivoire in the quarter-final. However, the Super Eagles edged past Cote d'Ivoire 2-1 to clinch a semi-final berth. At the semi-final, Nigeria surprisingly had an easy walk over Mali, trouncing them 4-1 in a demonstration of force.

Nigeria meets their fellow Group C counterpart, Burkina Faso for the second time in the competition but this time in the final. Though both teams separated on a draw in their first encounter, many people see Nigeria taking the upper hand in the final given their growth in strength. With uncounted number of professionals spread across the globe, the team managed by Stephen Keshi has the necessary human resources to claim the crown once again.

Stephen Keshi has proven that he could produce wonders with the little he has. He already proved his worth when he qualified a modest Togolese team to the 2006 World Cup. With a team that has been used to finishing amongst the top teams of the competition (winners in 1980 and 1994, runners up in 1984, 1988, 2000 and 3rd place finishes in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010), it is obvious that Keshi will use his leadership skills to drag the team back to the summit amongst the best.

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