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The Afcon semi-finals provided some superb and resolute football from the Super Eagles of Nigeria, who secured their ascension to greatness with a win over the Eagles of Mali. It was a match that lived up to the names of their sides and while the Eagles soared, the Super Eagles were too good.
Mali started quite well and initially looked every bit the 3rd ranked side on the continent. But it did not take long for the Super Eagles to find their rhythm and they ultimately ran out 4-1 winners. Before a half hour was up, the Nigerians were 2 goals to the good, while the Malians searched for their first. It was deft and clinical stuff.
Although Fantamady managed to pull a late goal back for Mali’s Eagles in an effort to put a silver lining on their dark day, but time was up and Nigeria are through to their first final of the tournament since co-hosting it with Ghana 13 years ago.
Interestingly, Ghana could well have met their former co-hosts in the final, but lost a painful penalty shootout to Burkina Faso. The decision by one of Ghana’s superstars and their captain, Asamoah Gyan, to not take spot kicks may well have proved regrettable. He opted out of penalties after some costly and high-profile misses in the World Cup quarterfinals and Cup of Nations semi’s.
Three of Ghana’s players went on to miss their penalties and their 33 drought in collecting an African title sadly continued. The drama of the penalty shootout detracts somewhat from the dogged determination and purpose shown by Burkina Faso.
We hope that there will be much support in Johannesburg at the Afcon finals. Judging by the numbers of Nigerian supports in the semi-finals, the stadium should be jumping and receive the support it deserves. Good luck to both teams!
Allegations abound about a R176 000 bribe allegedly offered by Gyan to Koffi Dankwa to throw the game for Niger. The Ghana FA have emphatically denied the allegations but no further light has been shed on the matter.Tweet
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