AFCON 2013 Finalist: The Super Eagles of Nigeria

By IndepthAfrica
In 2013 Africa Cup of Nations
Feb 8th, 2013
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2013-02-07T052759Z_1_AJOE9160F6P00_RTROPTP_2_OZASP-SOCCER-NATIONS-20130207(Reuters) – Factbox on Nigeria, who play in Sunday’s African Nations Cup final against Burkina Faso at Soccer City:

Previous appearances in African Nations Cup finals: 16

Previous best performance: Winners in 1980 and 1994; Runners-up in 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000

FIFA world ranking Jan. 2013: 52

Coach:

Stephen Keshi captained the Super Eagles when they last won the Nations Cup although missed the final match and now has a chance to become the second man to win it as both a player and coach. Keshi, who turned 51 during the tournament, is a veritable veteran of the African championship. He has played at five tournaments, was a squad member at a sixth, been assistant coach twice and now is head coach for the third time – a record total of 11.

Key players:

Victor Moses (Chelsea). Age: 22. Pos: Midfielder

Moses moved to England from Lagos aged 11 and played at under-21 level for his new country before switching his allegiance to Nigeria. In a heady 2012, he won his first cap in the qualifiers against Rwanda in February and then transferred from Wigan to Chelsea. He scored two penalties against Ethiopia in the group stages of the 2013 tournament and set up the opening goal that led to Wednesday’s 4-1 demolition of Mali in the semi-final.

John Obi Mikel (Chelsea). Age: 25. Pos: Midfielder

A defensive midfielder at club level, he is given a more attacking role with Nigeria and has been one of the catalysts behind their progress to the finals. He made his debut for the national team at 18 and is a veteran of 19 matches at four Nations Cup finals but missed out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa because of injury.

Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow). Age: 20. Pos: Forward.

An exciting prospect who has come up through the junior ranks and was one of the star players at the World Youth Championships in Colombia in 2011. Signed for VVV Venlo in the Netherlands aged 17 and last year moved for an undisclosed fee to Russia. His pace is a key part of the Nigerian attacking strategy.

Emmanuel Emenike (Spartak Moscow). Age: 25. Pos: Forward Strong striker reminiscent of the Nigerian great Rashidi Yekini with his powerful approach to goal. Four goals at the tournament have helped to steer Nigeria to the final. Started as a professional in the obscurity of the South African second division before moving to Turkey and now Russia.

Form:

Nigeria arrived in South Africa warning against expectation with Keshi saying his young squad was still in a building phase. But the Super Eagles are always a team with a chance of success and have made a quick comeback after embarrassingly missing out on the last finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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