Nigeria and Burkina Faso.Both of these sides have exceeded expectations by reaching the final, but with The Stallions missing a couple of key men, Al Hain-Cole thinks that there is only one winner
The Africa Cup of Nations comes to a climax on Sunday, in a final between two teams that few expected would reach this far.
A youthful Nigeria side pulled off one of the shocks of the tournament when they knocked out favourites Cote D’Ivoire in the quarter-finals, and they will fancy their chances against a Burkina Faso team making their first ever appearance in the final.
The Super Eagles have a great opportuinity to win their first continental trophy since Paul Put’s surprise package narrowly saw off Togo and Ghana in the knockout stages, and are available at 12/5 (3.40) to follow in the footsteps of current champions Zambia by taking the title for the first time in their history.
These sides shared a 1-1 draw in the first game of the group stages, and you can get odds of 21/10 (3.10) on The Stallions holding their more illustrious opponents to a stalemate in normal time yet again this time out.
Alain Traore grabbed a late equaliser to earn Burkina Faso a point in that game, but the Lorient striker has since been ruled out of the competition through injury.
Fellow star player Jonathan Pitroipa will join Traore on the sidelines unless he manages to successfully appeal the red card he received in the semi-final, and the absence of those two is sure to seriously harm their nation’s chances.
Considering the underdogs have had less time to prepare for the final after kicking off later than Nigeria on Wednesday, and having been forced to endure four hours’ worth of hard-fought knockout stage ties, their chances of causing an upset start to look rather slim.
With this in mind, odds of 19/20 (1.95) seem really rather generous for Stephen Keshi’s men to emerge victorious on Sunday, and surely cannot be ignored.
The key to Nigeria’s success this tournament has been their abundance of attacking talent, with top-scorer Emmanuel Emenike leading the line with particular menace.
The Spartak Moscow striker has been on target in four of his side’s five games in South Africa, and three of those goals have opened the scoring for the West Africans.
Odds of 11/2 (6.50) offer unbeatable value for the frontman to score first in this match, just as he did in the Group C clash between these sides.