Nigeria have been crowned champions of Africa after beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the Cup of Nations Final. Sunday Mba was the hero as the Super Eagles won their third cup title and first in 19 years.
The Nigerians won the Cup of Nations Sunday evening during a tight 1-0 match at Soccer City in Johannesburg. A solitary goal from Sunday Mba in the 40th minute proved to be the winner.
A first half that ended in excitement began rather slowly. The best chance for either side in the early moments of the match fell to Nigeria's Ideye Brown in the ninth minute. When Burkina Faso goalkeeper Dadou Diakite jumped to collect a ball, he collided with Paul Koulibaly. Brown found himself in front of an empty goal with the ball at his feet, but his effort went high and it stayed level.
Shortly before halftime, Sunday Mba put the Super Eagles up with an impressive volley. Starting just outside the box, he flicked the ball over Mohamed Koffi with his right foot, then beat Bakari Kone to the ball to fire a left-footed shot low past Diakite and into the back of the net.
Nigeria hold on
Nigeria managed to keep Burkina Faso at bay for much of the second half. The best chance for the Stallions came in the 73rd minute, when substitute Wilfried Sanou, free on goal on the right side of the box, fired from close range, but Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama managed to force the ball wide.
The Super Eagles had two good chances to double their lead in the 86th minute. A scuffle in the box left the ball at Victor Moses' feet, but Diakite blocked his attempt. Just seconds later, Ahmed Musa crossed to Brown on the break, but the Dynamo Kyiv forward struck wide.
In the end, one goal was enough and Nigeria were crowned champions
"I'm very happy," Mba said to broadcaster Eurosport after the match. "I don't know what to say, but I'm just happy."
Noble performance from Burkina Faso
Despite the loss, Burkina Faso return having confidently put in the best tournament performance in their country's history.
Before this year's competition began, the West African country had only ever won a Cup of Nations game when they hosted in 1998. In last year's tournament, The Stallions exited at the group stage, having lost all three matches.
Nigerian Emmanuel Emenike was awarded the Golden Boot with four goals, and Chelsea's John Obi Mikel, who anchored Nigeria's midfield throughout the tournament, was named the Man of the Match.
As African champions, Nigeria will head to the Confederations Cup to be held this summer in Brazil, where they will face World and European champions Spain, Oceania champions Tahiti, and South American champions Uruguay.