AFTERMATH OF AFCON 2013 FINALS!
Diakite Daouda, Burkinafaso Goalie Confesses backstage:
‘Keshi is the Best Coach in Africa’
- How Nigeria whips Burkinafaso in South Africa
- Nigerian Players’ Names inducted into Hall of Fame
BY RAMSON LIONEL/GROUP SPORTS EDITOR/JO’BURG
DIAKITE Daouda, the sharp reflex goal tender of Burkinafaso team would not forget Nigeria’s Super Eagles in a hurry, as he confessed at the backstage after their team’s humiliation and defeat by Nigeria in the just concluded African Nations Cup (AFCON 2013) which held in South Africa that truly Stephen Keshi should be regarded as ‘‘The Best Coach in Africa’’, going by his superlative football teachings and tactical moves carried out on the wings by the Super Eagles players. Also, he described Nigeria’s team as the ‘‘Brazil Players of Africa.’’ To him, no other team in Africa could have out-witted Nigeria’s Super Eagles in pace, skills, stamina and goal scoring prowess.
Burkinafaso really prepared
Naija Standard learnt that in the past few weeks Burkina Faso’s fighting spirit had won rave reviews from AFCON fans. The Burkinabe, who had finished bottom of their group last year upset all pre-tournament predictions on their way to the final and they were bolstered during the build-up to the final by some good news. Alain Traore their top scorer was placed in reserve bench despite his injury which was expected to rule him out for the tournament and star man Jonathan Pitroipa was also cleared to play in final. To add to their happiness was the fact that Nigeria’s leading scorer Emmanuel Emenike would be missing from the final. Despite the encouraging build-up Burkina Faso looked weighed down by the enormity of the occasion in the final as Nigeria dominated possession for most of the second half. It was not a big surprise when Sunday Mba scored a beautiful goal just before half-time to put the Super Eagles 1-0 up.
Chances were few and far between in the second half. Nigeria, as expected became more defensive while Burkina Faso struggled to break their opponent’s back-line. The condition of the pitch also deteriorated steadily as the match progressed with both teams struggling to string passes. Staying true to the recent trend the final of AFCON 2013 also didn’t see a lot of goals and in the end the final was quiet a subdued affair – quiet different from the breath taking semi-finals.
Super Eagles show Supremacy
Truly, Nigeria’s team-the Super Eagles may well have turned a corner with AFCON 2013. This was their first appearance in final since 2000, after failing in semi-final four times in between. This is a pretty young Nigerian team with only two players, one of them goal-keeper Enyeama, being over 30 and most of the squad are actually below 25 years. Stephen Keshi ensured an inordinate amount of criticism before AFCON started but has steered the team marvelously in the tournament. Keshi has experience – as a player he captained Nigeria’s memorable 1994 World Cup team (curiously, he was dropped as a captain when Nigeria won AFCON in 1994) and has coached Togo to an unlikely World Cup berth six years ago. Nigerian football can do with some stability now and Keshi seems just the right person for the job.
Naija Standard gathered that the team spirit and tactical nous shown by the Stallions was incredible and often reminded of Zambia in 2012. They lost Alain Traoré, top scorer in group stages early in the tournament but still showed incredible hunger to knock out both Togo and Ghana after two physically draining matches. Put has a young team in his hands and will now aim to improve their position in 2014 World Cup qualifiers where Burkina Faso lie rock bottom in their group after two rounds. The steady loss of strength of North African teams due to off-field issues has opened up new vistas in African football as unheralded nations continue to achieve in AFCON. Zambia’s unlikely triumph last year was followed by Burkina Faso’s even more remarkable journey in this edition. However, there isn’t much to suggest that these countries will be able to sustain their success in future. The power vacuum in African football may continue to persist in coming few years. Things may improve from North African teams in next two editions with the tournament being scheduled to be held in Morocco and Libya.
Ivory Coast/Ghana Failed African Fans
To a lot of African fans, Naija Standard further learnt that both Ivory Coast and Ghana disappointed them. For Ivory Coast and Ghana this tournament brings more question than answers. Ivory Coast’s golden generation once again failed to deliver when it mattered most and may struggle to hold on to their position of highest ranked team in Africa in future. Ghana, on the other hand, may have reached yet another semi-final but their style of play continues to become more and more constipated. There is a feeling that the players are being bogged down too much with tactical discipline – a far cry from the CK Gyamfi’s days of them being called “African Brazil”. Among other teams Mali and Cape Verde impressed in patches. Mali finished third for second consecutive AFCON, a highly commendable achievement given the woes back home. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles can replace Seydou Keita, who has been absolutely crucial for them in past half decade as he was in AFCON 2013. Algeria was possibly the most unlucky team in AFCON 2013 and definitely deserved more than a group stage exit. Former champions Ethiopia also disappointed after qualifying for AFCON for the first time in 31 years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: So far, Keshi has made name in the Guinness Book of Records as a player and coach who won the prestigious African Cup of Nations for Nigeria. We hope the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would henceforth respect his views. Congratulations to the Super Eagles players whose names are now etched in the Nigeria’s Sports Hall of Fame forever.