11 February, 2013 - 18:29

Several thoughts on AFCON 2013

Several thoughts on AFCON 2013

After three weeks of beautiful goals, dramatic games, eyebrow-raising results and referring mistakes Nigeria have been crowned champions of Africa. Sunday Mba’s beautiful strike has brought the Super Eagles fully deserved 1-0 victory over dark-horses Burkina Faso. Here are several thoughts on the AFCON 2013.

Nigeria clear and deserved AFCON champions

Young Nigeria team has produced an excellent attacking display to overcome pre-tournament favorites Ivory Coast 2-1 in the quarter-finals and to thrash Mali 4-1 in the semis. Probably the Super Eagles were not as rampant and entertaining in the final as in their previous games and one can hardly say the last game of the tournament was joy to watch.

Probably that is due to the fact that Nigeria’s best forward Emmanuel Emenike was sidelined due to injury. However Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi has decided to replace him with Dynamo Kyiv star Brown Ideye pairing him with Chelsea winger Victor Moses up front. And the attacking duo repaid the faith of Nigeria boss with an excellent performance, even though it was Sunday Mba who scored the Gazza-style sublime winning goal (the 24-year-old Warri Wolves’ midfielder is currently linked with a move to top European sides following his excellent AFCON display).

One way or another they have delivered a much-anticipated victory to dramatically end the 19-year wait for a trophy and win their third AFCON title in 16 attempts. Burkina Faso, in turn, were not able to cope with the emotions and the burden of the high expectations to win their first AFCON title in the history and played too nervy.

Nigeria have scored 11 goals on their route to the title, with Emenike recognized as the best tournament goal-scorer with 4 goals.


The lost generation

Back in 2006 Ivory Coast have made up a strong and powerful team capable to compete on an equal footing against the high profile national teams. Those players (touted as “golden generation” of the Ivorian football by the media) have participated regularly in the final stages of African Cup of Nations and World Cups. And yet they have not won a single trophy. The Elephants took part in 5 AFCON tournaments and Drogba and Co were considered as sure-fire favorites to win each of them. However they only managed to win silver medals twice, one time they finished in the fourth place, and were eliminated in the quarter-finals twice. It’s a shame that the Ivory Coast, who boasts of arguably the strongest squad among the African national teams, have again failed to claim the AFCON title.

Despite being the strongest team of the 2013AFCON tournament, and enjoying superiority in almost every game, they apparently lacked the will-to-win spirit, the quality, demonstrated by the young Nigerian side, which surprisingly eliminated the favorites in the quarter-finals. The dramatic elimination denied Drogba’s (and the likes of Toure brothers, Kalou, Zokora, Eboué) last chance to shine on the international level.


Disappointing performance of Northern African sides

Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria have disappointed yet again after failing to progress to the knockout stages. Despite having strong squads packed with quality players, playing in the high-profile European leagues, the teams clearly showed the lack of motivation to win the AFCON title and were beaten by the more disciplined and enthusiastic sides. Only the strong survive.


The dark horses

Burkina Faso have clearly hit the fancy of the football enthusiasts after making it through the final. It is undoubtedly the Stallions’ boss Belgian Paul Put who deserves the credit for transforming the minnow into the disciplined and competitive team capable to effectively expose the weaknesses of other teams and take advantages of them. The players from French sides (Lyon’s Bakary Koné , Rennais’ Jonathan Pitroipa, Marseille’s Charles Cabore, Lorient’s Alain Traoré formed the backbone of the Burkina Faso national team. The players’ physical fitness was one of the apparent strengths of Burkina Faso as they played 120 minutes both against Togo in the quarter-finals and against Ghana in semis. However they have not looked exhausted in the final and seemed as though they were able to equalize the scoring. However they were overawed by the attitude of the final and could not find their rhythm.


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