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All bets are off in group C


When Kennedy Mweene planted his penalty past Vincent Enyeama in the Nigeria goal to give Zambia an unlikely equaliser, all bets were off.

Later in the evening, Burkina Faso pulverised Ethiopia, taking them top of the group unexpectedly.

Alain Traore' performance for Burkina Faso has lit up this group. Burkina Faso's first goal was the result of a fantastic pass into Traore's path. Traore’s first touch to kill the ball and the second to lash it into the top corner are just the sort of things that make watching this game emotional.

Only the unfortunate Soulama, in goal for Burkina Faso, can explain what possessed him to catch the ball outside his box. His justified sending off had no effect on the result. Ethiopia paid the price for keeping to their one-touch, triangle pass and move play, which is very pleasing to the eyes but unlikely to prise open a tight defence and midfield.

It has to be pointed out that the loss of two first choice players to injury in the first half did not help their match plan. Saying that, credit must be given to Burkina Faso coach Paul Put for the team's formation, making it hard for Ethiopia to play through their midfield.

The second goal was delightful to watch. From then on the West Africans were unstoppable, with Kone and Pitroipa adding two very good team goals. It is all in their hands now and Paul Put knows he must be at the top of his game to keep his team focused for the final group match against stuttering defending champions Zambia.

Before the match with Nigeria, I asked Herve Renard of Zambia if his team was changing from last tournament. He coyly said he might change it for the Nigeria match and he did. Zambia's biggest problem is goal scoring and against Nigeria, in the first half they did have a few half chances but Mayuka and Chansa wasted them.

Nigeria improved and got a penalty after Ahmed Musa was upended in the box. The penalty, missed by John Obi Mikel, must be one of the worst ever taken in the history of the Afcon. The Chelsea midfielder has not covered himself in glory in this tournament. He, along with his fellow midfielders for Nigeria, have frustrated the efforts of the excellent Emmanuel Emenike, who has scored Nigeria's two goals thus far in the tournament.

The less written about the penalty awarded to the Zambians the better.

Going into the final group matches the pressure is on Nigeria and Zambia to do what they have not done all tournament - WIN. On paper the Nigerians seem to have an easier task against Ethiopia but will the Super Eagles be able to hold on to a lead this time? They have not been helped by the needless pressure being piled on the team by the members of the Football Federation, which has even led to the head coach being ready to walk out.

A re-organisation is required in that midfield. Ahmed Musa has had a tournament to forget so far and really does not deserve a starting place in a match this crucial but a lot will depend on the fitness of Victor Moses.

For Zambia, Mayuka and skipper Katongo have to find their scoring boots to match their brilliant approach play and speed of movement. Burkina Faso have shown that in Paul Put they have a coach who can adapt his team during a match, so they will be filled with confidence.

Despite giving one of the best performances of the tournament so far, Burkina Faso could so easily go out if they are not careful. I can't call that match; even if I believe that somehow Zambia have a big performance in them. Their fans will hope it comes against the West Africans.

Whatever happens on Tuesday after the final group matches, the Ethiopian fans have lit up this tournament.

Please follow me on Twitter for my updates during the tournament @CalvinEmeka


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