Nigeria ran out triumphant in Johannesburg last night and claimed their second ever African Nations trophy with a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso. The Super Eagles were written off before the tournament due to their recent poor tournament form but proved all their doubters wrong to emerge as kings of Africa.
For Stephen Keshi the manager it was a proud and deserved moment. His squad selection was called into question before the start of the tournament but it appears he got the balance just right. It was made even more special by the fact Keshi was a member of the playing team that won the competition in 1994.
For Burkina Faso it was a true shame; the team not given a hope before the start of the competition were defeated by another vital goal from Sunday Mba and despite their best efforts they simply could not break down a resolute Nigerian defence and the dream faded away.
So other than the final result, empty stadiums, vuvuzelas, bad refereeing and even worse goalkeeping what were the other tales from the Afcon 2013?
Algeria went into the competition with high hopes as one of the highest ranked teams in the competition. They played delightful passing football and dominated possession in the majority of their games but The Group of Death claimed them. Losses to Tunisia and Togo were enough to dump them out of the competition. In fact for North African teams in general it was a poor tournament in the Southern realm. Morocco and Tunisia also failed to progress past the Group Stage.
The Ivory Coast emerged victorious from Group D and the perennial favourites once again seemed set on a march toward glory. However they did not prepare for Nigeria and Sunday ‘The Elephant Slayer’ Mba from dumping them out at the quarter final stage. While a semi-final spot for Ghana may have seemed a decent performance they would have expected to beat Les Etalons once they were there.
For Zambia this year’s edition brought them back to earth with a bang after the jubilation of a year ago.
Once again the Afcon produced a few neutral favourites. Burkina Faso an obvious choice after their heroics at making it to the final. They were my outside bet before the competition and thanks to Sunday Mba I found myself out of pocket in the betting stakes but, c’est la vie.
The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde also performed wonders. Dumping Cameroon out in qualifying was not enough they also had to claim the scalps of Morocco and Angola before faltering against the Black Stars in the quarters.
Togo must also be commended for escaping the Group of Death while even South Africa over-achieved. The host nation maybe; but on paper their team was not one of the eight strongest here so making it to the quarters was a great achievement; losing on penalties to Mali a stinging blow.
Which brings us to The Eagles; led by the talismanic Seydou Keita they finished third once again and proved themselves one of the continents premium forces.
All in all the competition may not have had the drama and heroism of Gabon/Equatorial Guinea in 2012 but there were still plenty of stories to tell from South Africa.
And who can forget this moment….
What was your favourite moment of the competition?