9 February, 2013 - 11:06

African Nations Cup Final Preview: Nigeria vs Burkina Faso

African Nations Cup Final Preview: Nigeria vs Burkina Faso

Despite clear difference in style between two sides, both Nigeria and Burkina Faso showed winning mentality and determination, - qualities which are necessary for potential champions. And yet the progression of Burkina Faso into the African Nations Cup final has raised some eyebrows. Further we will consider some reasons lying behind the unexpected success of the national team perceived as major outsiders before the beginning of the tournament.


There has been sensible lack of investment in football facilities and infrastructure in Burkina Faso since the country has hosted the Cup of Nations in 1998. It is not surprising taking into account that this little country is one of the poorest in the world. They came to African Nations Cup with a view to get at least one victory. And yet they overcame the favorites Ghana in the semi-finals and progressed to the final, despite the horrendous refereeing by Tunisian Slim Jdidi (they were denied two surefire penalties, had a goal denied and saw their key player Jonathan Pitroipa unfairly sent off for diving). On Sunday, they will face super-motivated Nigeria who will bend every effort to win their first title in 19 years.

There is one person who played a major role in the marvelous transformation of Burkina Faso national team, - head coach Paul Put. This extraordinary specialist has left Belgium for Africa after being charged for match-fixing and came off with flying colours with African heavy underdogs Gambia almost making it through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2010 African Nations Cup.


Burkina Faso skipper Charles Kaboré revealed Paul Put is a true master at motivating his players, so they have been putting their heart and dedication to win every game of the tournament.

“When we arrived the only person who believed in us was the coach. As for we players, we were planning to give it our best shot but I would like to thank the coach for the trust he put in us and thank the people of Burkina Faso who have supported us through this tournament,”

- said Charles Kaboré.

Route to the final:

Both sides were drawn in the same Group C. They have played against each other in the first group match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, with Burkina Faso scoring the dramatic equalizer in the dying stages of the game.

The Stallions have beaten Togo in extra time in a hard-fought battle 1-0 before overcoming Ghana on penalties in a game that ended 1-1 after extra-time.

The Super Eagles have beaten Ivory Coast 2-1 in the quarter-finals before thrashing Mali 4-1 in the semis.

Players to watch:

Burkina Faso are really good at the back with Koffi, Koulibaly and Kone being able to keep at bay even the most rampant attacking players. However the Stallions will miss their two key players Alain Traore, who has picked up an injury during victory over Ghana and Jonathan Pitroipa who earned an early shower after being shown two yellow cards by referee Slim Jdidi. However the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has suspended Tunisian referee due to series of serious mistakes.


Nigeria are considered clear favorites to claim the African Nations Cup title. They have an excellent squad packed with quality players – John Obi Mikel and Moses are pulling strings in the midfield while Emmanuel Emmenike is scoring crucial goals. Mikel has been particularly impressive as his calming presence in the middle of the pitch allows attacking players to flourish. He is the most likely to win the Player of the tournament award.


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Author: Basil Naumov

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