Super Eagles bask in title glory

Triumph over Burkina Faso at the Africa Cup of Nations brings joy to thousands of Nigeria fans and pride to players.
Last Modified: 11 Feb 2013 13:55
Chelsea striker Victor Moses, pictured centre, described Sunday’s win as ‘one of the best days of my life’ [AFP]

Nigeria ended a 19-year wait to be crowned kings of Africa after victory against Burkina Faso in the continent's premier football tournament, sending the Super Eagles to a showdown with the world champions.

Sunday's 1-0 final triumph over outsiders Burkina Faso in South Africa saw the thousands gathered to watch the match on giant screens near the national stadium in Nigeria's second city Lagos erupt with joy and celebration in the country's press.

"Kings of Africa" said The Punch newspaper on Monday, while The Nation called the win "Nigeria's magical hour".

Pivotal role

Chelsea winger Victor Moses described the victory as one of the best days of his life after he played a pivotal role when Nigeria picked up a third Africa Cup of Nations title.

Moses, on his debut in the continental showcase, made a telling impact on the Super Eagles' journey to the 2013 title, clinched with a win earned through a first-half Sunday Mba goal.

He scored the two late goals that saw off Ethiopia to put Nigeria into the knock-out stages and was instrumental in Mba's first-half strike that proved sufficient to bring the coveted crown back to Lagos.

"One of best days of my life this is a dream come true I'm so proud to be Nigerian," Moses wrote on Twitter.

"The win is for each and everyone of u back home, I'll savour this," the former Crystal Palace and Wigan star added in another post.

Nigeria's third title, after wins in 1980 and 1994 when coach Stephen Keshi was captain, earned the Super Eagles a $1.5m first prize and a place at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in July.

They will face world and European champions Spain, Tahiti and Uruguay in the traditional World Cup warm-up.

It was a result that took Keshi into the record books as he equalled the feat of late Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary by winning gold medals as a player and a coach.

Nigeria were 11 minutes away from being knocked out of the competition until Moses's timely intervention from the penalty spot against the Ethiopians.

The speedy 22-year-old was an ever present thorn in Burkina's side, and it was his shot that ricocheted off a defender that led to Mba's superb goal in the 40th minute.

Many thought he should have picked up the best player of the tournament award, which went instead to Burkina's Jonathan Pitroipa, with organisers CAF naming him instead fair player of the tournament.

Local hero

That unheralded Mba should emerge as the match-winner was entirely fitting as the striker, plucked from the Nigerian league, perfectly vindicated coach Keshi's heavily-criticised policy of using locally-based players.

"It's a dream come true. I score the only goal in the final, we win the title, I'm in complete shock. "

- Nigeria's Sunday Mba

"It's a dream come true," beamed the 24-year-old Egugu Rangers forward, who also scored the winner in the 2-1 quarter-final win over Ivory Coast.

He added: "I score the only goal in the final, we win the title, I'm in complete shock.

"We've worked and suffered so hard to win, we've been waiting for this moment for so long, I'm so happy."

Godfrey Oboabona, one of the rocks in Nigeria's defence which held off a sustained late Burkina onslaught, added: "I am just full of joy for winning this trophy at my first attempt.

"I don't know what to say now, I am just short of words. I am on top of the world."

For team captain Joseph Yobo, who came on for the closing couple of minutes having missed the bulk of the competition with injury, the title was a fitting end to his Nations cup career.

The veteran 32-year-old Fenerbahce defender reflected: "This is my sixth Nations Cup and I'd already said it was going to be my last. Not because I can't play anymore, but because it's time to give my place to someone else.

"I thank God for giving me this victory in my final appearance."


Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Despite 14-year struggle for a new mosque in the second-largest city, new roadblocks are erected at every turn.
Authorities and demonstrators have shown no inclination to yield despite growing economic damage and protest pressure.
Lebanese-born Rula Ghani may take cues from the modernising Queen Soraya, but she'll have to proceed with caution.
One of the world's last hunter-gatherer tribes has been forced from the forest it called home by a major dam project.
Chinese authorities scramble to cut off information on Hong Kong protests from reaching the mainland.