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Football | Super Eagles

Nigeria fan © Shengolpix

Eagles, Stallions in crucial opener



Nigeria and Burkina Faso will go head-to-head in their first game of the 2013 Afcon in Nelspruit on Monday.

Both teams would have watched defending champions, Zambia and Ethiopia take on each other earlier in the day.

The Nigerians were absent at the last edition when Equatorial Guinea and Gabon played co-hosts in 2012 while the Burkinabes were bundled out without a win.

Stephen Keshi has opted for 17 new men for the Africa Cup of Nations leaving out the known names such as Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Obafemi Martins, Peter Osaze Odemwingie, Taye Taiwo and Kalu Uche.

But Nigeria's Super Eagles have some of the biggest young talents in Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Brown Ideye, Nosa Igiebor and Kenneth Omeruo in this Afcon and they are complemented by the experience of captain Joseph Yobo, Vincent Enyeama, John Obi Mikel and Ikechukwu Uche.

For Nigeria, goalkeeper Austin Ejide remains a doubt after suffering a hamstring injury in the build-up to the tournament.

Burkina Faso's Stallions are still searching for their first win at the Afcon in 17 games.

Paul Put's team are not short on talent as they will threaten through the like of Aristide Bance and big striker, Moumouni Dagano.

The duo of Alain Traore (injury) and Charles Kabore (suspension) are out of this game though Traore has an outside chance of being passed fit.

The Stallions will draw hope from the fact that the Super Eagles have had mixed results in their pre-Afcon games including a 0-0 draw against debutants, Cape Verde.

"We have had intense preparations and now we are ready to face Nigeria and the rest. It’s important that we win the first game. I am not saying it will be easy but we have a competitive squad to go all the way," Bance had told supersport.com.

Nigeria's skipper, Yobo wants to take each game as they come starting with the Burkinabes.

"We will have to take it a game at a time. We have great expectations against Burkina Faso," he said.

Nigeria are two-time champions of the Afcon in 1980 and 1994 and they know that their fans back home will accept nothing outside of a win against Burkina Faso.

The Super Eagles' biggest win over the Stallions remains a 7-1 win in an Afcon qualifying game in Lagos in 1991.

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