The Super Eagles of Nigeria have against all expectations qualified for the FINAL of the 2013 African Cup of Nations. It has been an astronomical rise for the Giants of Africa as they were once known.
The young team put together by former Eagles captain, Stephen Keshi has proved all the doubters wrong by sending the Ivory Coast out of South Africa and dismantling Mali in the semis to earn a shot at a title which has eluded them for the past 19 years.
Coach Stephen Keshi who is affectionately called the ‘BOSS’ is aiming to become only the 2nd man to win the Nations Cup as a player and manager after Egypt’s Mahmoud Al Gohari. The former Eagles captain won the trophy in 1994 when Tunisia hosted it.
The Nigerian coaching crew have been sweating on the fitness of key players-Emma Emenike and Victor Moses who picked up injuries in the 4-1 humbling of the Aigles of Mali in the previous match. Other players are available and hungry to come back home with the trophy.
The Burkinabe were almost robbed by the Calamitous Slim Jdidi in the semi final showdown with Ghana. A series of astoundingly bizarre decisions went the way of the Ghanaians in the match including a soft penalty which should never have been and worse still, the RED CARD awarded to Star Stallion, Jonathan ‘Beninwende’ Pitroipa- a decision which has since been reversed.
Belgian tactician, Paul Put will be hoping to ‘put’ the name of Burkina Faso among Nations that have won the AFCON later today when proceedings end.
Both teams know a bit of each other. They were in the same group (C) and the game contested between them ended in a 1-all draw made possible by a last minute Alain Traore equaliser. The Lorient front man whose 3 goals ensured that the great Stallions qualified for the knockout stages.
The unlikely finalists will slug it out this evening at the beautiful soccer city stadium in Johannesburg with all eyes on the men on the sidelines who have somewhat contrasting fortunes. Paul Put the Belgian manager has been ostracised in his home country over allegations of match-fixing and bribery (The YE ZHEYUN SCANDAL) and cannot manage in his country unless a fresh license is given to him by the FA of Belgium.
He has found a new home in Ouagadougou and has surprisingly reshaped the football philosophy in Burkina. The former Gambia coach (2007-2011) affirmed that he gave his boys clips of Greece’s 2004 Triumph, Chelsea’s UCL win last season and Zambia’s road to success last time out, to show them that underdogs can come from nowhere and upstage the so-called cup favourites.
The videos have made the desired impact to his delight and he will be hoping to add his name to the Di Matteos, Renards, and Rehhagels of this World in a few hours. Stephen Okechukwu Keshi the 50 year former Super Eagles skipper is a man well respected and revered in Africa.
After guiding Togo to the 2006 World Cup against all odds and managing the Malian National team with considerable success, he has etched his name in the jistory books and expects to add a Nations Cup trophy to his burgeoning resume after today’s battle. It will even be more remarkable because of the number of so-called big boys he left out of his final squad list.
The likes of Osaze Odemwingie, Taiye Taiwo, Obafemi Martins, Yak Aiyegbeni, Obinna Nsofor, etc were overlooked for Kenneth Omeruo, Obaobana, Brown Ideye, Sunday Mba and co. Even Captain Joseph Yobo has been warming the bench for the past 4 games. It has reaped the desired results as the EAGLES have swept aside all before them in their quest for Continental glory. One more hurdle to scale.
Enyeama, Ambrose, Obaobana, Omeruo, Echejile, Mba, Mikel, Onazi, Ideye, Moses, Emenike
Diakite, Koffi, B.Kone, Koulibaly, Panandetiguiri, D. Kone, Rouamba, Pitroipa, Nacoulma, BANCE.
Aristide Bance is deputising for the injured Alain Traore who sadly, can play no further part in this tournament. Burkina Faso have been boosted by the decision of CAF to rescind the RED CARD awarded to Pitroipa and the suspension of Slim Jdidi who should not be handed a whistle again for another 2 years. Bance scored the leveller v the Black Stars and took his penalty well in the shoot-out.
Captain Joseph Yobo will watch from the bench once again as his guys try to win the AFCON for the 3rd time ever. The team leader is in his 1st ever final, alongside all his other teammates. Vincent Enyeama will lead the Eagles out, but it remains to be seen who will lift the trophy should the Nigerians emerge victorious. This is Nigeria’s 7th final-only Ghana and Egypt have appeared in more.
Old Stallion, Moumouni Dagano has appeared in 6 ANC (African Nations Cup) Tournaments, but has registered just 1 goal. An appalling stat.
Written by Ohireime Eboreime
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