Published On: Sun, Feb 10th, 2013

Nigeria v Burkina Faso in Epic Final

Burkinabe Striker Pitroipa redcarded in the tumultuous semi against Ghana's Black Stars.

Burkinabe Striker Pitroipa redcarded in the tumultuous semi against Ghana’s Black Stars.

The stage is set. The AFCON Championships Curtain falls on the tournament Sunday evening with a match that, has on paper come down as an epic battle of  wits pitting together youthful sides that have acquitted themselves favourably in the two week tournament held in South Africa..

Burkina Faso were boosted on Friday with the decision to rescind the red card given to their star striker Jonathan Pitroipa.  Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi on his part has two doubtful top strikers in Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike who both received knocks in the semi-final against Mali.

Mali took third position after routing Ghana 3-1 in the 3rd place playoff on Saturday.  Ghana started off well in the first half but mali improved by the minute scoring their third goal in added time to silence the Black Stars. Ghana had beaten Mali 1-0 in the Group Stages.

Stephen Keshi, the Nigeria coach, said there will be no surprises when the Super Eagles take on Burkina Faso in the final of the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations at the National Stadium on Sunday evening.

Keshi said he believes the two sides have intimate knowledge about each other’s style. This, however, he believes will not be a problem for Nigeria. Burkina Faso and Nigeria met in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations. That match ended in a draw.

“We have played Burkina Faso at some stage during this tournament. We have had three games after that game, we have tried to correct our mistakes. Burkina Faso knows us just as much as we know about them. There are no surprises between these two teams. I’m sure they have seen us play – we know them, they know us. That is good for both teams,” Keshi said.

Stephen Keshi in a history making debut, should his side win the Final against burkina faso

Stephen Keshi in a history making debut, should his side win the Final against burkina faso

The former Super Eagles captain turned coach said winning the Africa Cup of Nations should not be reduced to an individual achievement. For him, the march towards conquering Africa is not about preserving his legacy nor vindicating him in the midst of criticism he faced before the tournament.

“Winning tomorrow is not about Stephen Keshi – it is about my country; it is about putting smiles on the faces of Nigerians. It is not about me. It is not about my CV. You can have my CV here and someone else’s CV and they wouldn’t look at my CV. So, this game is not about my CV.

“We have been preparing, trying to concentrate. We are looking forward to tomorrow. Some people say we are favourites, I don’t know about that. We just want to do our job. There are three principles in football – win, draw or lose. Tomorrow, there are only two principles that apply – win or lose. If we win, that is great. We cannot have a draw. You either win or you are out, that is up to God.”

The Nigeria mentor was in high spirits on Saturday afternoon as he faced members of the media for the final press conference at the National Stadium – the venue where they will try to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 1994.

“A lot of people like to talk about the past – what happened in 1994 or 1986. That is all in the past. I don’t like talking about the past. My focus is on tomorrow. We are preparing, we have to concentrate. We cannot always talk about Cote d’Ivoire or Mali. We have to approach this game with a different mentality,” he added.

If tomorrow comes and I win 3-1 and they score in the last minute, I will take the Cup home. The most important thing is to win games and that is what we have been trying to achieve.

Keshi revealed that the decision on striker, Emmanuel Emenike and Chelsea star Victor Moses will only be made tomorrow morning. The duo has been on the sidelines since they picked up knocks during their tough semi-final against Mali in Durban.

“About Emenike; we don’t know what will happen with him yet. We will make that call tomorrow morning if there is an improvement or not. If he is not ready, it doesn’t matter. Somebody has to pick up from whether he left. The same situation applies with Victor Moses.”

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Nigeria v Burkina Faso in Epic Final
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