African Cup Of Nations: Cautious Optimism As Super Eagles Vow To Lift Cup In South Africa-As the final of the African Cup of nations approaches this Sunday, Nigeria national team, the Super Eagles in the final has maintained a never-complacent approach.
Cautious optimism characterized the minds of Super Eagles players in their camp, but with self assued conviction that the cup must come to NIgeria.
With Stephen Keshi, the national coach bathing in the glory of Nigeria having reached the final, the boys are reaching for records that a third time AFCON winning will be best for the nation, Nigeria, having won the cup on two previous occasions.
Not even the handing-over-of-the-cup-to-Nigeria-rehearsals by the Zambian South African Ambassador who has assured of a no-bitterness cup handover will shift the Eagles focus from lifting the cup on Sunday.
Nigerian Ambassador in South Africa, Ambassador S.S Yusuf, revealed that his Zambian counterpart has tipped the Eagles to be African Champions and has graciously offered to plan a good hand-over ceremony when Nigeria wins the Cup.
Nigeria captain, Joseph Yobo said he was 100 per cent confident that together with his team-mates holding the nation tight in their heart, they will make history on when they face the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Super Eagles cruised to a 4-1 victory over Mali last wednesday in Durban to reach the final for the first time in more than a decade, while Burkina Faso needed an extra time and a penalty shootout to get past favourites Ghana in Nelspruit.
Both teams met at the start of the group stages of the competition and shared the honours with a draw.
However, Yobo, who had so far worn 92 caps for his country said his chance to lift the cup as captain will not be missed.
“First of all, we have a lot of respect for the guys who won this competition in 1994, they are heroes back home. We cannot compare ourselves to them. We want to make our own history, we have our destiny in our own hands and I believe we can win this tournament on Sunday. We are capable, we have what it takes to win,” Yobo told Cafonline according to Goals.com.
The Super Eagles will engage Burkina-Faso at the South African National Stadium in Johannesburg.
It will be Nigeria’s seventh final as they seek their first title since 1994. On the other hand, it will be Burkina Faso’s first, as they bettered their best showing in 1998 when they reached the semi-final on home soil.
Nigeria team news:
Coach Stephen Keshi may be without tournament leading scorer Emmanuel Emenike after reports indicate that the striker tore his thigh muscle in the 4-1 win over Mali in the semi-finals.
In case he fails the late fitness test, Ahmed Musa and Villareal forward Ikechukwu Uche are available replacements.
Good news though is that Chelsea striker Victor Moses has been passed fit to play in the finals. Captain Joseph Yobo is still expected to start on the bench with Vincent Enyeama skippering the side in the finals.
John Obi Mikel, Sunday Mba and Brown Ideye are expected to be key for Nigeria.
*Mikel Obi, one of Nigeria’s top-class acts going into Sunday’s AFCON final, says he wishes to crown his fourth tournament with the trophy assuring that the nation will be unstoppable from lifting the cup.
The Chelsea midfielder has assured the nation of full time commitment shunning critics who accuses him half-heart commitment. He has one been tipped as heir apparent to the great Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha.
Player to Watch: Victor Moses
*In the absence of Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses will be the man expected to lead the hunt for goals against Burkina Faso. The Chelsea star has been instrumental in his side’s quest for the title and Stallions must be aware of the threat he poses.
Burkina Faso team news:
*Coach Paul Put will still miss the services of danger man Alain Traore who is ruled out due to injury but their camp has been boosted by news that Caf has rescinded Jonathan Pitroipa’s controversial red card and the winger will feature against the Nigerians.
Right full back Muhammad Koffi who left the pitch in the win over Ghana due to injury is still doubtful.
Besides the problems above, the squad is in high spirits and ready to die a little for their country.
Jonathan Pitroipa, Djakarija Kone and captain Charles Kabore will have to be at their best if Burkina Faso is to get its first ever gold medal at Afcon.
Man to Watch: Jonathan Pitroipa:
In the absence of Alain Traore, Pitroipa has been the main source of goals for his side through creativity and even netted in the quarter final win over Togo. He has so far netted two goals in the campaign and Nigerian defenders must be wary of his threat.
DID YOU KNOW?
-Nigeria will be making its seventh appearance in the finals. The Super Eagles were finalists in 1980, 1984, 1988, 1990, 1994 and 2000 while Burkina Faso will be appearing for the first time.
-Nigeria have won the title twice in 1980 and 1994 while Burkina Faso have won none.
-Nigeria have scored 10 goals and conceded 4 en route to the finals while Burkina Faso have scored 7 and conceded just two an implication that the battle on Sunday will be between best defence Vs Best attacker.
-Both teams played to a 1-1 draw in the group stages. Emmanuel Emenike scored for Nigeria while second half substitute Alain Traore scored for Burkina Faso.
A hard game to predict being a final. Both sides deserve to be on the pitch. Nigeria are clear favourites going into this game after drowning Mali and tournament favourites Cote d’voire but must be wary of Paul Put’s side that qualified for the finals at the expense of Ghana albeit through penalty kicks.
The Burkinabe are a bit more exhausted than Nigeria having played 120 minutes twice in the knock out stages.
It will be a tightly contested game but Nigeria will edge it in the end.
Nigeria 2-1 Burkina Faso
What are your predictions?
The Nigerian Ambassador in South Africa, Ambassador S.S Yusuf, has revealed that his Zambian counterpart has tipped the Eagles to be African Champions and has graciously offered to plan a good hand-over ceremony when Nigeria wins the Cup.
The Chipolopolo were sent packing in the first round after failing to win any of their games in the group phase-as they drew all three including the last gasp effort against Super Eagles.
-With what we have seen of this team, we are sure you will not disappoint Nigerians on Wednesday and even in the final, the Ambassador remarked.
To win their third Africa Cup of Nations trophy, Nigeria will first
Sources: Goal.com and Kawowo Sports