African soccer title for Nigeria. Nigeria’s long wait for a major soccer title ended on Sunday as the “Super Eagles” beat Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations. Sunday Mba attain his second goal of the two-week tournament — both accidentally coming on the day that bears his name — as Nigeria turn into just the fourth team to win the continental crown three times or more. “I’m so happy it is a dream come true. I don’t know what to say,” Mba said after the final whistle.
“We really worked hard and we were looking forward to this day and I’m so happy for this.” Stephen Keshi became only the second man to win the title as both coach and player, having been captain at the 1994 competition when Nigeria won for the second time — though he did not play in that final. Burkina Faso, playing in the concluding for the first time, missed out on the $1.5 million first prize and the chance to represent Africa at this year’s Confederations Cup in Brazil. Mba also scored in the quarterfinal win over tournament favorites Ivory Coast, being one of five home-based players brought into the squad by Keshi.
Keshi made big alter after Nigeria failed to meet the criteria for last year’s event in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon — a confused period for the national team, which was balanced from international football by President Goodluck Jonathan before world ruling body FIFA threatened to arbitrate. However, the president was pleased with Sunday’s result. “President Jonathan thanks coach Stephen Keshi and all members of the team who have worked very hard to make Nigeria the proud champions of Africa once again after 19 years of setbacks in the competition,” his office said in a statement. “The President also believes that having occupied Africa, the new Super Eagles can go on to achieve still greater splendor at the World Cup in Brazil next year.” Back in 1994, Nigeria was ranked fifth in the world — the highest by any African nation.