Nigeria have emerged as the winners of the African Cup of Nations in South Africa after defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final on Sunday. There would have been plenty of Premier League interest in the game in Johannesburg; well at least there was from one Premier League team.
John Obi Mikel
Officially the player of the tournament went to Jonathan Pitroipa but that was perhaps more a reflection of the miracle that Burkina Faso had pulled off than that of who truly was the best player in the competition. Nigeria had a slow Group Stage but excelled in the knockout rounds and it was this man who pulled the strings from the heart of midfield. We have become accustomed to his poise in the middle and his composed passing was allied with strength and robustness as he stood head and shoulders above any of the other players in his position.
The reliance that Nigeria could have in their Chelsea talisman allowed the Super Eagles to soar on the attack; including Sunday Mba who surged forward to score two crucial goals against Ivory Coast and the winner against Burkina Faso in the final.
He missed the opening game against Burkina Faso but featured in every game after that and his powerful runs and explosive ability proved too hot to handle for many including Mali in the semi-final. He played a vital role in the winning goal in the final while his two penalties against Ethiopia may have spared them the blushes of an opening round exit.
After Celtic defender Efe Ambrose was sent off in the opening fixture the youngster on-loan at ADO Den Haag in Holland came on and went on to feature in every remaining minute of the competition. He formed a fearsome central-defensive partnership with Godfrey Oboabona and showcased some of the talent that has made him one of the most sought after names in the Eredivisie.
After proving himself on an international setting such as this one his next target may be to make a breakthrough at Chelsea next season. At just 19-years-old his Chelsea future looks extremely bright.
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