2013 Africa Cup of Nations Finals – Thursday 07 February 2013
Mali (0) 1 – 4 (3) Nigeria
Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
This was a pretty clinical display by Nigeria and a game that was over by half-time. The Super Eagles were able to exploit a Mali defence that looked very square and static. Nigeria went ahead on twenty five minutes, as Victor Moses twisted and turned out on the right-hand side. As the cross came in the four Mali defensive players stopped which allowed Echiéjilé to stoop low and head in. Just five minutes later the lead was doubled, as Emmanuel Emenike crossed from the right for Brown Ideye to slide in. Everything was going the way of the rampant Nigerian’s and on forty four minutes a Emenike free-kick was deflected by Momo Sissoko for an own-goal to make the score 3-0.
Into the second-half, Mali had a chance straight away to get back in the game but Seydou Keita dragged his effort from inside the box wide of the post. A final nail in the coffin arrived on the hour when Musa Ahmed was played in behind the Mali defence and he nut-megged the keeper for a 4-0 lead. Ahmed thought he had a second just three minutes later but it was ruled out for offside. As Nigeria eased off, Mali got a consolation goal on seventy five minutes through Cheick Diarra. Indeed it was the best period of the game for the Malians as Vincent Enyeama in the Nigerian goal made good saves from Cheick Diarra and Cheick Diabate. However, Nigeria were the better team and deserved the victory on the night.
Burkina Faso (0) 1 – 1 (1) Ghana AET
(Burkina Faso won 3-2 on penalties)
Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
In a week which has seen the release of the Europol document highlighting match fixing in football, there were decisions in this game that must have raised an eye-brow and might set the alarm-bells ringing at CAF and beyond. To say that Tunisian referee Slim Jedidi was incompetent would be an understatement. Virtually from the off, the referee got the major decisions wrong. Within the opening five minutes, Jonathan Pitroipa with ball at his feet went into the penalty box and was blatantly bundled over by Ghana’s John Boye; decision – no penalty. Then on thirteen minutes, a ball is lofted into the Burkina Faso box, where Mady Panandetiguiri of Burkina Faso jumps with Ghana’s Christian Atsu. Minimal contact is made, but after Atsu falls to the ground as a result of the 50/50 challenge, Ghana are inexplicably awarded a penalty. Mubarak Wakaso converts and as in the Cape Verde game The Black Stars are controversially ahead. To their credit The Stallions didn’t let it affect their game and as the half went on created chances with Jonathan Pitroipa and Prejuce Nakoulma prominent for Burkina Faso. Ghana too had chances with the best falling to Solomon Asante just before the break.
On the hour the game was level at 1-1, as Ghana lost possession, Charles Kaboré threaded the ball through for Aristides Bance to wrong-foot the keeper. In the remaining thirty minutes neither side could find a winner, so extra-time ensued. It proved to be a highly controversial period with referee Slim Jedidi back in the spotlight. With the first period of time almost up, following a ball into the box, Burkina Faso’s Prejuce Nakoulma was shoulder to shoulder with Ghana’s Kwadwo Asamoah, but managed to poke the ball past Dauda in the Ghanaian goal. There seemed nothing wrong with the goal yet the referee disallowed it. Further controversy followed when with four minutes remaining Jonathan Pitroipa was clearly hacked down in the box; not only is a dead-cert penalty not awarded, but Pitroipa is booked for diving and sent-off as it was his second yellow card. Slim Jedidi – more like Slim Shady. So penalties came to pass and The Stallions must have thought given how their luck had been that an exit on penalties would add to the cruelty. However, justice was done as Burkina Faso took the shoot-out 3-2. Vorsah and Clottey missed horribly for Ghana, with Agyemang-Badu having his effort saved by Diakite. Just twelve months ago Burkina Faso lost all three of their Group games at the 2012 AFCON Finals, now they are one game from taking the title.