Eagles flying high again

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have proved doubters wrong by reaching the final game of 2013 AFCON in South Africa.
Dr. Joseph Kamugisha
Dr. Joseph Kamugisha

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have proved doubters wrong by reaching the final game of 2013 AFCON in South Africa.

Before the start of AFCON 2013, the Super Eagles were not among hot favourites to reach the final given their poor record in the qualification.

After a slow start at AFCON 2013, Nigeria have improved gradually to raise their game up to the final stage of the competition. They were drawn in a group comprised of Ethiopia, reigning champions Zambia and now-fellow finalists Burkina Faso.

They drew with both Burkina Faso and Zambia but managed a win over Ethiopia to reach the knockout phase of the competition.

The Eagles have been at the centre of criticism in the past years but their recent emphatic win over favourites Ivory Coast in the quarter finals, coupled with 4-1 triumph over Mali during a semi final game in midweek has erased bad memories from their fans.

 They have moved on from being the underdogs at AFCON 2013 and are well placed to clinch the title.

They last won the trophy in 1994 after they beat Zambia 2-0 with the golden generation of Stephen Keshi, Rashid Yakini, among others.

This time also reminds us the time when the Eagles were so close to becoming the second African country to make it to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. However, they controversially failed to get past Italy in the second round. 

With Keshi in charge, the team’s fortunes seem to be changing for the better.

Keshi was appointed by the Nigerian Football Federation two years ago, after the Eagles failed to qualify for the 2012 AFCON and 2010 World Cup.

The soft spoken tactician seem to be on the right track at the moment, especially after guiding Nigeria to the final game of this event with convincing victories over giants; Ivory coast and Mali.

He has many new faces in his team different from the one that drew 0-0 with Amavubi Stars in Kigali during the AFCON qualifiers. He has now assembled a strong team that could perform well in the forthcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers.

Nigeria has a youthful squad with rich talent and experience. The likes of Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel have replicated their form at Chelsea with excellent performances at AFCON 2013.

Victor Moses is one of the best play makers in this tournament. A they take on Burkina Faso tomorrow, they will be hoping lift the first Afcontrophy since 1994.

 

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