Steve Haag

Nigeria vs. Burkina Faso, 2013 Africa Cup of Nations final: Super Eagles the champions of Africa

They're going to party like it's 1994 in Lagos tonight. Nigeria are the champions of Africa after holding on for a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations final.

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Super Eagles win 2013 Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria defeated Burkina Faso 1-0 to become Africa Cup of Nations champions for just the third time in their history.


Elderson Echiéjilé off injured

If Nigeria are going to hold onto their 1-0 lead in the Africa Cup of Nations final, they're going to have to do it without the most experienced of the defenders in their starting lineup. Fullback Elderson Echiéjilé, who has been rock solid defensively both throughout the tournament and on Sunday against Burkina Faso, has been taken off injured in the 67th minute.

Echiéjilé picked up his knock a few minutes before being substituted, and it wasn't immediately apparent how he picked up his injury. He had to leave by way of a stretcher and was replaced by Juwon Oshaniwa, who has not played in the tournament up to this point. He's one of the domestically-based players in the Nigeria squad and lacks Echiéjilé's big game experience, but has played 17 times for his country. The domestically-based players in the Super Eagles team have more than held their own in this tournament; goal-scorer Sunday Mba plays for Warri Wolves and has been spectacular all tournament long.


Sunday Mba has Nigeria up 1-0 at halftime

It took them 40 minutes to capitalize on their superior play, but Nigeria found a goal late in the first half of the Africa Cup of Nations final, and deservedly lead Burkina Faso at the break. They've been a class above their opponents and missed a number of easy chances, but Sunday Mba came up with a moment of spectacular quality to break the deadlock.

Ideye Brown set up the first big chance of the game in the 7th minute, though he did it with a dive, winning a free kick on the edge of the area. A good delivery found the head of Efe Ambrose, but he directed his header over the bar when he should have hit the target. Two minutes later, Brown almost scored on a corner. Another excellent delivery was knocked down, and Burkina Faso keeper Daouda Diakite failed to claim the ball. It fell to Brown, who turned and blazed a shot over the bar.

Things slowed down after that, with both teams struggling to create clear chances. Nigeria was well on top, though, with the Chelsea FC pair of John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses controlling the play. Eventually, their possession turned into a goal, though it didn't exactly come from the most likely source.

In the 40th minute, Brown won a 50-50 ball in the center of the pitch that bounced to Ikechuwu Uche, who found Moses. The Super Eagles winger was tripped and probably could have won a penalty if he went down, but stayed on his feet and attempted a shot, which was blocked. The ball eventually came to Mba at the edge of the box, and he took it upon himself to surge past multiple defenders before scoring. He popped the ball up to himself as he ran into the box, then poked a wonderful volley into the back of the net at the far post with the outside of his foot.

Given Nigeria's technical superiority and their ability to control this game thus far, it's going to take something exceptional for Burkina Faso to play their way back into the match. They're clearly second best, and will need one of their stars to step up big and make something out of nowhere.


Both Nigeria and Burkina Faso missing key forwards

Nigeria have named a starting XI with one change from the semifinal for the Africa Cup of Nations final, following the injury to Emmanuel Emenike. He was unable to shake off a knock, and is replaced by Ikechukwu Uche. Victor Moses is fit to start despite some questions about his availability.

Mohamed Koffi, who also battled fitness issues, will play at right back for Burkina Faso. The Stallions are without their best forward, Alain Traore, but had no problem beating Ghana to get to this point without him in the team. They'll lean heavily on Charles Kabore and Jonathan Pitroipa going forward.

Nigeria starting lineup (4-3-3): Vincent Enyeama; Uwa Echielije, Kenneth Omeruo, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose; Sunday Mba, John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi; Ikechukwu Uche, Ideye Brown, Victor Moses

Burkina Faso starting lineup (4-3-3): Daouda Diakite; Saïdou Panandétiguiri, Paul Koulibaly, Bakary Kone, Mohamed Koffi; Charles Kabore, Djakaridja Koné, Florent Rouamba; Jonathan Pitroipa, Prejuce Nakoulma, Aristide Bance


Balance and technique drive Nigeria forward

Nigeria's qualification for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations has been achieved through simple, but nonetheless brave means.

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