Nigeria Wins AFCON 2013; Beat Burkina Faso 1-0

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AFCON Trophy
AFCON Trophy

It was a moment all soccer lovers in Africa and across the world had waited anxiously for; the moment when the champions of AFCON 2013 would be crowned. The Nigeria Super Eagles and the Stallions of Burkina Faso were the Last men standing. Other big names like Cote D’ivoire, Zambia, Ghana, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and South Africa had all fallen aside.

The final battle was between Nigeria and Burkina Faso (both West Africans): Mali and Ghana had in the previous day slugged it out for the 3rd place match with the former emerging 3-1 winners against all odds.

With Emmanuel Emenike (Nigeria) and Allain Traore (Burkina Faso) both ruled out as a result of injuries, the match was certainly going to miss two of the tournament’s best strikers. Good news for the Burkinabes as Jonathan Pitroipa had been pardoned to play against the Super Eagles after his Red card in the semi final match against Ghana was cancelled by CAF.

The match was expected to be a tough one as it eventually turned out to be. The Nigerian Super Eagles dominated the first half of play, missing several chances that should have put them ahead in the early minutes of the match. It was obvious the absence of Emmanuel Emenike created a vacuum in the attack which Ikechukwu Uche, who was a little heavy could not fill. Ideye Brown could not convert a lot of scoring chances that came his way. Victor Moses kept producing those his flashy runs from the wings but nobody to bury the ball in the net.

Then came the 40th minute when Sunday Mba collected a rebound from Victor Moses’ shot which came off a pass from Ikechukwu Uche, and gave it a perfect finishing touch to produce the only goal of the night. It was a moment of relief as he looped the ball over a Burkinabe defender with his right foot and then connected the shot with his left to beat the Burkinabe goal keeper flat footed. There was ecstasy in the stadium as the fans who had waited for 40 good minutes got a heave of relief. It’s Mba’s second goal of the tournament and it was good enough to give Nigerians their 3rd Nations Cup Gold (1980, 1994 and 2013).
Super Eagles
Super Eagles Celebrate
The Stallions fought gallantly to try to equalize, but it was not to be, as the Eagles held on tenaciously to their lone goal. They were determined not to concede a late goal which had characterized their campaign of the tournament. The Super Eagles conceded 3 late goals in their previous 5 matches; and the Stallions scored a late goal in almost all their previous matches. But the final match saw something different as the Nigerians maintained their lead to the end.
Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi thus became the second coach to win AFCON as a player (1994) and as a coach, after Mahmoud Al Gohari of Egypt. He also becomes the first Nigeria indigenous coach to lift the AFCON trophy.
Super Eagles
CAF first eleven expectedly had five Nigerian players – Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike, Efe Ambrose, John Obi Mikel and Vincent Enyeama. Jonathan Pitroipa of Burkina Faso got the tournament’s best player award. Emmanuel Emenike got the tournament’s highest goal scorer award.

Nigeria will now prepare to fly the continent’s flag in the Confederation Cup later in Brazil. And as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, we hope the boys would maintain their fighting spirit and bring more pride to Nigeria and Africa in general.

Starting Eleven

Nigeria: Ogenyi Onanzi, John Obi Mikel, Sunday Mba, Victor Moses, Brown Ideye, Ikechukwu Uche, Vincent Enyeama, Elderson Echiejile, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo and Efe Ambrose.

Burkina Faso: Bakary Kone, Paul Koulibaly, Mady Panandetiguiri, Daouda Diakite, Djakaridja Kone, Florent Rouamba, Charles Kabore, Prejuce Nakoulma, Jonathan Pitroipa, Aristide Bance and Mohamed Koffi.

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