10 February 2013

Nigeria/Burkina Faso: Keshi Leads Super Eagles to Victory - Again

Photo: www.dailytrust.com
Nigeria are African 2013 soccer champions.

Nigeria have claimed their third Africa Cup of Nations crown after a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso in the 2013 final at Soccer City on Sunday night.

A goal from Sunday Mba five minutes before half time settled the tournament. It was a deserved victory for the Super Eagles who made most of the running in the game.

The match was played in front of some 85,000 fans in Johannesburg, bringing to an end what has been an entertaining three weeks of football.

Nigeria endured much scorn from their own supporters for their displays in the pool phases, with coach Stephen Keshi reported to be facing the sack if his side lost their quarter-final to Cote d'Ivoire.

But in a stunning turnaround of fortunes, the Nigerians have claimed a first continental success since their great side of 1994 – one that was captained by Keshi.

The Super Eagles had to endure the loss of leading striker Emmanuel Emenike before kick off after he failed to recover from a hamstring injury, but Chelsea forward Victor Moses was passed fit. Ike Uche was drafted in for Emenike, but had an ineffective match leading the line and was replaced early in the second half.

There was an early scare for the Burkinabe when goalkeeper Daouda Diakite spilled a catch, but Brown Ideye put the ball over with the goal gaping. Nigeria continued to make the running, but a mixture of wild shooting and last-ditch defending from Burkina Faso kept them at bay.

That was until the 39th minute when the deadlock was broken. Moses's shot from inside the area was blocked, but Mba picked up the ball, juggled over two defenders and hit a left-footed shot into the corner of the net. It was a superb goal from the Enugu Rangers midfielder.

Diakite pulled off an excellent save to deny Ideye from a tight angle after the latter was set up by Moses, before Burkina Faso conjured their best opportunity. A slick move found Wilfried Sanou free on the tight-hand side of the box. His low shot looked destined for the bottom corner, but Vincent Enyeama produced a wonderful one-handed save to deny the forward.

Nigeria were able to hold on for what is a famous, if unexpected, win in a tournament in which they entered to low expectations.

Burkina Faso saved their worst performance for the final. Perhaps the occasion got to them, but they still had a magnificent tournament and one that has put them among the elite of African sides.

Nigeria now move forward to represent the continent at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

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