Skip to content

Cup of Nations: Nigeria routs Mali to make AFCON final

Feb 6, 2013, 1:18 PM EDT

FBL-AFR-2013-MLI-NGA-MATCH29 Getty Images

The match always had the potential for goals, but few would have predicted such a lopsided result. With four goals in a 35-minute span starting mid-first half, Nigeria qualified for their first Africa Cup on Nations final in 13 years, eliminating Mali 4-1.

In some ways the result was just as impressive as Sunday’s quarterfinal defeat of tournament favorites Cote d’Ivoire. While the Malians are not held in the same regard as Les Elephants, the Super Eagles put on a more impressive show, leaving little doubt the project initiated by Stephen Keshi — one that left many of the team’s highest profile, most-capped players out — has come good.

Braga defender Uwa Echiejile opened the scoring in the 25th minute, heading come a cross from Victor Moses. Five minutes later, Dyanmo Kyiv striker Brown Ideye doubled Nigeria’s lead, with Spartak Moscow attacker Emmanuel Emenike giving the Super Eagles a 3-0 lead minutes before halftime. CSKA attacker Ahmed Musa’s goal on the hour completed the Nigerian onslaught, with Bordeaux forward Cheick Diarra’s late tally sparing Mali a sliver of indignity.

Nigeria will meet the winner of the day’s other semifinal, Burkina Faso-Ghana, Sunday in Johannesburg.

That final appearance will be the latest vindication of Keshi, who selected a young team for South Africa with the hopes of leaving the program’s baggage behind.

“There were a lot of problems in Nigeria because some of the big players, I did not want to take along in the team,” Keshi said of the response to his Cup of Nations selection. Players like Peter Odemwingie and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, veterans who have combined for 112 appearances and 30 international goals, were omitted from the squad, as were experienced players Obafemi Martins and Taye Taiwo.

The result is a team that may lack the attacking power of some of Nigeria’s previous major tournament squads, but it’s also a team that’s avoiding the pitfalls. After a disappointing 2010 World Cup and the failure to qualify for the 2012 Cup of Nations, Nigeria has yet to lose in their five games in South Africa, scoring 10 goals while allowing only four.

Now the Super Eagles have a chance to win their first African title since 1994, when their squad featured a 32-year-old Keshi as well as a young Jay Jay Okocha.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Manchester City sells Edin Dzeko to AS Roma for $21 million

    Aug 4, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Sunderland - Barclays Asia Trophy Final Getty Images

    At Roma, Dzeko will join a loaded attack which includes Mattia Destro, Victor Ibarbo and Seydou Doumbia, as well as Francesco Totti.

  2. Maps, rivals, stadiums: Location of all 20 Premier League teams for 2015-16 season

    Aug 4, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Aerial Views Of Central London Getty Images

    Ever wonder where the games you’re watching on TV are taking place? He’s a guide to help you out.

  3. CONCACAF Champions League returns: Five MLS teams eye continental glory

    Aug 4, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    CONCACAF Champions League Final - 2nd Leg - Club America v Montreal Impact CONCACAF Champions League Final - 2nd Leg - Club America v Montreal Impact

    D.C. United, LA Galaxy, RSL, Vancouver and Seattle fly the MLS flag as they look to break Liga MX’s stronghold.

  4. A televised coin flip will decide which team hosts the 2015 U.S. Open Cup final

    Aug 4, 2015, 12:50 PM EDT

    US Open Cup trophy Getty Images

    This coin toss is a really, really big deal for the four teams left in the competition.

  5. On his way out of PSG, should Arsenal or Manchester United sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

    Aug 4, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic AP

    Should a PL giant hand Zlatan a chance to strut his stuff in England’s top-flight?

  6. Jose Mourinho praises Chelsea’s Premier League title rivals, talks Abramovich

    Aug 4, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Chelsea Getty Images

    Blues boss hugely complimentary of the PL’s other big boys heading into the new season.

  7. VIDEO: Watch Men In Blazers’ season premiere in full, featuring “The 2 Robbies”

    Aug 4, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    MIB with the 2 Robbies

    Rog, Davo, Mustoe and Earle hang out in the panic room and preview the upcoming PL season.

  8. AZ Alkmaar agree to sell USMNT forward Aron Johannsson to Werder Bremen

    Aug 4, 2015, 7:45 AM EDT

    Dutch Eredivisie - "AZ Alkmaar v Vitesse Arnhem" Getty Images

    Dutch club reach “agreement in outline” with Bundesliga side Bremen for AJ.

  9. Reports: Manchester United submitted two bids for Gareth Bale over $110 million

    Aug 3, 2015, 9:28 PM EDT

    Bale Getty Images

    Apparently Louis van Gaal really, really wants Gareth Bale on his team.

  10. Report: AZ Alkmaar speaking with Werder Bremen about Aron Johannsson

    Aug 3, 2015, 7:55 PM EDT

    Johannsson Getty Images

    Could the USMNT forward be thinking about a move to the Bundesliga?

  11. Brighton brings back club hero Bobby Zamora, fans explode with joy

    Aug 3, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT

    Zamora Getty Images

    Bobby Zamora has returned to his old club 12 years after leaving, and Brighton fans couldn’t be more excited.

  12. Agent says Gonzalo Higuain rejected Napoli contract extension

    Aug 3, 2015, 6:20 PM EDT

    Higuain Getty Images

    Gonzalo Higuain won’t be leaving Napoli this summer, but he’s not impressed by the club’s feeble attempt at a contract extension.

  13. Juventus lose Sami Khedira for 2 months to hamstring tear

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    Khedira Getty Images

    A massive blow to Juventus puts them on alert for midfield cover.

  14. Will this year’s Liverpool spending spree work better than the last?

    Aug 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    FirminoBenteke Getty Images

    Liverpool has spent big for the second straight summer, but it appears the Reds may have learned a valuable lesson.

  15. Lyon announces deal for Manchester United wing-back Rafael

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT

    Rafael Getty Images

    Rafael’s rocky seven-year tenure with Manchester United is over as he heads to France.

  16. Premier League Goalkeeper preview: Who’s in our Top Five, and who switched clubs?

    Aug 3, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    <> at Emirates Stadium on July 28, 2015 in London, England. Getty Images

    Not a great deal has changed in the world of Premier League goalkeepers this offseason, but among the differences is a huge one: Petr Cech has moved from Chelsea to Arsenal.

  17. Best starting lineups for all 20 Premier League teams – Do you agree?

    Aug 3, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT

    PST selects the strongest XI’s for each PL team ahead of the 2015-16 season. Let us know what you think.

Featured video

What can we expect from PL new boys?