Much of Africa’s attention will be on South Africa this weekend for the final of the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.
And it features two of the best teams from Africa – yet two very different teams.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles — a perennial regional powerhouse will face Burkina Faso’s Stallions.
The Burkina Faso’s Stallions surprised many by playing at higher level than expected. The team hadn’t won a game at the African tournament since 1998 and had yet to make the finals.
But the team nearly missed its opportunity. It was during the semi-final match between Burkina Faso and Ghana when a controversial call by a referee nearly cost the Stallions its star player, Jonathan Pitroipa. He received a red card which meant he would have missed Sunday’s final against Nigeria.
But a replay of the call showed that the referee made a bad call. The referee, Slim Jdidi of Tunisia, recognized his mistake and Pitroipa was reinstated and allowed to play in the final.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles hasn’t been without its troubles either. The team had been an African powerhouse in the 1990s.
But over the past decade hadn’t done well, causing the media to nickname the Super Eagles, the “Super Chickens.” The team has turned around with young and energetic players, making them the favorite to win.