Nigeria 4-1 Mali: Super Eagles romp to Afcon final

| February 6, 2013 | 0 Comments

A day of destiny gently turned into a day of providence for the Super Eagles as they utterly outclassed Mali in the Afcon’s first semi-final. The Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban was the venue for a famous occasion in Nigeria’s football history, an afternoon which curtailed the misery of the last decade’s semi-final failures.

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The first half began with the Nigerians keen to recall the tempo that had seen off Cote d’Ivoire in the quarter-finals. The opening stages saw chances for both sides, as Mali threatened from set pieces, and Emenike forced a smart save from Samassa – recalled between the sticks to replace penalty hero Diakite.

When it comes to ‘tempo’, however, Victor Moses is often in a class of his own – and this occasion was no different. The Chelsea man was in stunning form, and it was his invention and natural ability that broke the deadlock. Bursting down the right flank, he sold the Malian left-back with a Cruyff turn before sending a delicious curling cross into the six-yard box. Elderson was on hand to finish things off, stooping low to head the ball past Samassa.

It was the defender’s first goal for his nation, drawing parallels with France’s Lillian Thuram, who scored his only international goals in France’s victorious semi-final in ’98.

The dominance continued as Mali’s backline were again cut to shreds. Once more, Moses was the architect; his cross field run created indecision among the defence, before his delightful pass set Emmanuel Emenike free – the striker opted to play in his partner Ideye Brown, who made no mistake from close range.

Before half time, Naija all but ended the match as a genuine contest. The Super Eagles were awarded a free kick for a tenuous Momo Sissoko tackle on Victor Moses, and Emenike, one of the heroes against Cote d’Ivoire, stepped up with glory in his eyes.

He did not disappoint, although even he would not have expected the goal to come in such bizarre circumstances: the wall separating, and his fierce shot finally dribbling into the net, past the stranded Samassa, with Mali looking on aghast.

Months, if not years, of waiting for the talents of Chelsea pair Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel to finally bloom finally came to fruition and both were influential; Moses, explicitly, crafting two goals, performing as many had dreamt he would, and Mikel, more subtly, controlling the play, and even threatening the Malian goal with a powerful strike.

As the game wore on, the differences between the two teams became starker. Mali, demoralised, looked leggy after their wearing quarter-final against South Africa, while the Nigerians impressed with their fluid off the ball movement and a hunger throughout the team.

In the second half, it became apparent early on that Mali had realised the game was up, with the pace descending to a canter, all of the Super Eagles were keen to involve themselves in the action. Ahmed Musa, on for Moses, was the brightest. His goal on 60 minutes was the icing on the cake, and finally broke Malian resistance once and for all.

A late consolation goal for the Eagles, scored by Mady Diarra, was little succour for a side so outclassed on such a major stage.

It has been a mixed tournament for Patrice Carteron’s Eagles. Qualifying from the group and besting the hosts afforded memorable moments, but they have at times looked like a one man team, and have often lacked inspiration in attacking areas.

On the other hand, Stephen Keshi’s young Nigerian team are growing boldly into national colours. With a final date set up against either Ghana or Burkina Faso, the sky is the limit for the west African powerhouse. Expect a confident spectacle from the Super Eagles on 10th February in Johannesburg.

Culled from :Here

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Category: Sports