The Super Eagles class of 2013 are on the brink of becoming the third set of Nigerians to win the Africa Cup of Nations when the final of the 29th edition holds this Sunday at the National Stadium in Johannesburg.
For the current set of Eagles, coached by Stephen Keshi, this weekend’s final match at the 94-000-seater stadium, south of Johannesburg within the Nasrec precinct, provides them the opportunity to etch their names in gold by winning the prized title.
It is the seventh time that Nigeria would reach the final of AFCON.
The last time Nigeria won the Cup was in 1994, with present coach, Keshi, then captain of the team, tinkered by Clemens Westerhof. In the final, two goals from Emmanuel Amuneke were enough to lift Nigeria to a 2-1 over the Chipolopolo of Zambia.
The only other time the Eagles won the Cup was in 1980. In that final played at the National Stadium in Lagos, Nigeria whipped Algeria 3-0.
For the current stars, comprising the likes of Vincent Enyeama, Elderson Echiejile, Kenneth Omeruo, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose, Sunday Mba, Ogienyi Onanzi, Jon Obi Mikel, Victor Moses, Brown Ideye and Emmanuel Emenike, the road to the final did not come easy.
In their opening group match against Burkina Faso, the Eagles were held to a 1-1, which was followed by another 1-1 draw with Zambia, before they finally hit their rhythm in their last group game against Ethiopia, which they won 2-0 to qualify for the quarterfinal as runners-up, behind Burkina Faso.
In the quarterfinal, they defeated Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 to send out a strong warning that they were the team to beat. The semifinal match against Mali provided the Eagles the chance to show their strong attacking power as they sunk their Eagles foes 4-1.
It was a masterful performance by the Eagles, who are now looking good to win the Cup for the third time.