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Nigeria tops Burkina Faso to win Nations Cup, Mali takes 3rd, Morocco next host in 2015

Closing ceremony before 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Nigeria & Burkina Faso at the National Stadium in Soweto, on Februay 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Manus van Dyk /Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Closing ceremony before 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Nigeria & Burkina Faso on Feb. 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Manus van Dyk /Gallo Images/Getty Images)

**Morocco to host next Africa Cup of Nations — 30th edition — in 2015**

Washington Post/AP and Goal.com (Johannesburg, South Africa, Feb. 10, 2013) — Nigeria won its first African Cup of Nations title since 1994, beating Burkina Faso 1-0 Sunday on Sunday Mba’s left-footed volley off a rebound in the 40th minute. Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi captained the Super Eagles when they won in 1994. Nigeria also won the title in 1980.

Following its victory before a crowd of about 87,000 at Soccer City, 52nd-ranked Nigeria advanced to a first-round group with Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti at June’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. Burkina Faso, ranked 92nd, was seeking its first title.

Nigeria scored in the 40th minute of the first half and held off underdogs Burkina Faso for the final margin to win the 2013 AFCON crown.

Nigeria scored in the 40th minute of the first half and held off underdogs Burkina Faso for the final margin to win the 2013 AFCON crown.

Few in attendance at the National Stadium were under any doubt as to the magnitude of the occasion, and the anticipation created a powerful atmosphere inside the arena. While both sides belted out the national anthems with vigour and aplomb, Nigeria were the only side that succeeded in overcoming the emotion and expectation early on. Burkina Faso, by comparison, were nervy and at times looked overawed by the altitude of the final.

The tension afforded Naija the better opportunities early on, as the Stallions’ defence failed to settle. Victor Moses, a player who has begun to emerge as a genuine international star during this competition, was particularly bright, and looked keen to profit from any unease among the opposition. He appeared everywhere, troubling both fullbacks with his pace, and also the subtler side of his game, his feints and touches.

On Saturday in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Mali defeated Ghana 3-1 to finish third in the African Cup of Nations on Saturday, overcoming the Black Stars for the second consecutive year in the consolation match.

Striker Mahamadou Samassa opened the scoring with a header in the 21st minute, captain Seydou Keita added to the lead with a close-range shot in the 48th, and Sigamary Diarra sealed the victory in stoppage time, ending Mali’s emotional campaign.

Mali celebrates after 3-1 victory over Ghana to take 3rd place at 2013 AFCON

Mali celebrates after 3-1 victory over Ghana to take 3rd place at 2013 AFCON

Kwadwo Asamoah scored for Ghana in the 82nd. Ghana midfielder Wakaso Mubarak missed a penalty kick early in the second half, his first miss in four spot-kicks at this African Cup.

In the championship game, Efe Ambrose and Ideye Brown had opportunities to demonstrate their aerial prowess early on, but despite the bumbling and fumbling of Daouda Diakité in the Burkinabé goal, neither could capitalise. As the first half unfurled, the Stallions struggled to impose themselves; in frustration, perhaps more than hope, Aristide Bancé – one of the semi final heroes – twice shot from distance, but both of his efforts were wayward – the first hurtling over the bar, the second dribbling wide.

With the game threatening to become congested in the midfield, and Burkina still struggling to settle, Nigeria struck first. Moses forged some space for himself, and after demonstrating admirable determination and work rate, indirectly provided an opportunity for Sunday Mba – the slayer of Cote d’Ivoire – to fire the Eagles ahead.

The Enugu Rangers midfielder still had a lot to do however, and a compilation of delicate touches allowed him to glide past the Stallions defence before finishing. It was further vindication of Keshi’s domestic-based selection policy, the manager becoming only the second figure in history to win the cup as both a player and a coach.

Sunday-Mba-130210-VsBurkina-GL-300

Burkina Faso, on the other hand, failed to truly grow into the contest and find their rhythm. While few would have begrudged them a place in the final, after their heroic performances previously, perhaps the occasion was too big as the side appeared to lack self-belief, and rarely convinced.

As the game became stretched late on, the Stallions began taking risks, but only looked menacing on rare occasions, one such chance, a terrific shot by the substitute Sanou, demanded a stunning save from Enyeama to preserve Nigeria’s lead.

The Eagles also carved out several chances to end things, but Moses and Brown conspired to waste these promising situations-every missed opportunity may have felt like a portent to another Burkinabé uprising, but, as the minutes dripped by, the inspiration never arrived. Shots of Alain Traore, injured on the touchline, a horrible reminder of ‘what might have been’ for the Stallions.

The result ended a wait of 19 years for the Super Eagles to be reunited with the trophy that means so much to Nigerians worldwide. Only time will tell if the generation of 2013 can emulate the past vintages beyond this tournament, however with a young squad, including superstars such as Moses, Mikel, and Musa, as well as the rawer talents of Mba, Oboabona, and Omeruo, the future looks very promising indeed.

Nigeria claim their third Cup of Nations, as a continent recognises their revival, and a nation rejoices.

Morocco is scheduled to host the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations — the 30th edition of the football championship of Africa (CAF). It will be the second time the tournament is hosted by Morocco – the last AFCON tournament held in Morocco was in 1988.

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