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Football | Afcon

Ikpeba in 2000 © BBC

Super does not mean invincible



The dynamic and intelligent young Nigerians gave ample and empathic demonstration that Eagles (Mali) and Super Eagles (Nigeria) "no be mate" as they say in Nigeria - meaning they are not equal.

A comprehensive 4-1 destruction typified by cerebral play. I thought Finidi George's wily football intelligence had been transplanted into all 11 players on the pitch, so utter was their control of the game, so completely did they implement their gameplan through rhythmic, intricate passing and constant convoluted movement which confounded a hapless Mali.

I have not ever watched Nigeria play in this manner in my whole experience, not even the dynamite 1994 side which is regarded as the touchstone Nigeria team.

So Nigeria in its 13th CAN semi-final since emerging as a power in the African game during the 1976 tournament in Ethiopia, wins this one to make it 7 semi-final wins in total.

The unfortunate statistic of course is that out of 6 finals played before now, we have won only 2 --1980 v. Algeria and 1994 v. Zambia. The rest have been defeats, 3 (1984, 88 and 2000) to Cameroon and one to Algeria (1990).

So at the end of the day...this will make for a nervous 90 minutes on Sunday because as we see, for Nigeria nothing is etched in stone. Especially in the finals.

Gbenga Bunmi Aina

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