The Super Eagles of Nigeria will this afternoon take on the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the grand finale of the 29th edition of Africa Nations Cup holding in South Africa.
If the Super eagles win the trophy at the end of proceeding today, coach Stephen Keshi would have made history as he would become one of the few persons who lifted the trophy both as team captain and coach.
The only other African is former national coach of Egypt El-Gohary.
Keshi captained the Super Eagles to the 1994 edition of AFCON which held in Tunisia and they won.
Keshi’s Super Eagles are favourites going into this match billed for the National Stadium in the face of the Stallions of Burkina Faso reaching their first-ever tournament’s final. But Nigerian midfielder, John Obi Mikel, has deflected the favourite tag off his team. “Coming into this tournament, no one gave us a chance. So we want to go into the final in the same way – as underdogs,” Mikel told the BBC. Irrespective of Mikel’s statement, Nigeria’s Super Eagles remain favourites to land a third African title at the expense of Burkina Faso, according to bookmakers.
Since 1991, the Nigerians have never lost in competitive matches to the Burkinabes including a 7-1 win in Lagos in an Afcon qualifying.
But this time, the Stallions are miles better than their 1991 predecessors after holding the Super Eagles to a 1-1 draw when both teams met at the group stages of this tournament.
Paul Put’s men have had heads turning in South Africa with superb performance from the like of Aristide Bance, Jonathan Pitroipa, Charles Kabore and Prejuce Nakoulma. The absence of FC Lorient striker, Alain Traore, owing to injury has not dampened the Cinderella run of the Burkinabes up to the final.
Nigeria have had to rely heavily on Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses, Mikel, Godfrey Oboabona, Sunday Mba, Vincent Enyeama, Kenneth Omeruo and Ogenyi Onazi, among others, to reach their seventh final in the history of the Afcon.
But Emenike and Moses, who have been pivotal in Nigeria’s quest for a third title, are doubtful while Burkina Faso are boosted with the return of Pitroipa, whose suspension ahead of the final has been rescinded by CAF. This Afcon final is one that was hardly foreseen but is enveloped with a package of history in wait.