NewsWest AfricaAfter Nigeria's Afcon win, World Cup worries for Ghana

Fri,29Aug2014

Posted on Monday, 04 March 2013 14:30

After Nigeria's Afcon win, World Cup worries for Ghana

By Billie McTernan

Photo©ARMANDO FRANCA/AP/SIPAWith the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching, the Nigerian Super Eagles have gained confidence after flying to the top to become the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions. Meanwhile in Ghana, it is all but.

 

Going into the tournament, the Nigerians were overshadowed by the Ivorian side, the favourites to win.

The tournament suffered from the all too frequent absence of big teams and big names. Egypt failed to make it through the qualifiers past the Central African Republic.

Ghana went into the tournament as second favourites but was missing Chelsea striker Michael Essien and the Ayew brothers, André and Jordan, sons of legendary Ghanaian player, Abedi 'Pele' Ayew.

Following their conspicuous absence, and in what many Ghanaians deem as an unfair punishment, the pair have handed in their temporary resignation, joining Asamoah Gyan, Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Kevin Prince Boateng.

Whilst they were expected, the sheer scale of international retirements has sent shock waves through the country as many question coach Kwesi Appiah's judgement ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Nigeria too went in without its best-known attackers: Yakubu, Peter Odemwingieand Obafemi Martins, all of whom have played in the English Premier League.

But a new generation of players made it so that the trio was rarely mentioned.

Despite assurances from Nigeria's sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi that there was no pressure on the team to win, businessman Aliko Dangote dashed the team N130m ($825,000) ahead of the competition withthepromiseofmore if they won.

Another of the country's billionaires, Mike Adenuga, rewarded the Super Eagles with $1m and gave coach Stephen Keshi $200,000.

Emmanuel Emenike, who plays with Spartak Moscow in Russia, led the attack.

He scored both goals in Nigeria's first two matches but could not find the back of the net in the third.

Chelsea's Victor Moses stepped up and scored twice as Nigeria beat Ethiopia 2-0.

Sunday Mba got his second goal of the tournament when he scored the only goal of the final, securing Nigeria its third AFCON win, against finalists Burkina Faso.

South Africa made good use of the stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup.

During the group stages empty seats left gaping holes, but the 77,600-ticket final was sold out.

Keshi, who joined Mahmoud El-Gohary astheonlyAfricans to have lifted the cup as both player and manager, resigned from his post the day after the Super Eagles' win, but was persuaded to reconsider.

Before Nigeria defends its title at the 2015 tournament in Morocco they will face Kenya in March this year- a predicted easy win for the Super Eagles- for the first round of the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers.

Whilst the tournament will give AFCON no-shows Egypt a chance to prove they are still a force to be reckoned with if they get past Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Guinea in the qualifiers.

Proud of the national team's performance in the AFCON Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan praised the Super Eagles' victory on his Facebook page, saying: "I doff my fedora hat to this great squad that has brought laughter and happiness to our homes●" 



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