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By Arinze Ude AFCON-2013-SA-logo NIGERIA 4-1 MALI Nigeria breezed into the finals of the African Cup of Nations for the first time since 2000 when they co-hosted the tournament with neighbours, Ghana after a routine win against Mali. The Super Eagles outclassed, outran and outplayed their Malian counterparts in all departments to book a place in the final. Stephen Keshi kept faith with the same team that stunned Cote D’Ivoire and they took the lead within twenty five minutes through left back, Elderson Echejile. NigeriaMali The defender found himself unmarked at the back post and headed the ball past Mali’s keeper, Mamadou Samassa after a neat play on the right wing by Victor Moses. Victor Moses was again involved in the second goal, splitting the Malian defence with a sublime pass to Emmanuel Emenike, who squared the ball to his strike partner, Brown Ideye to jab home. A minute before halftime, Super Eagles made it three when Emenike’s powerful freekick deflected off Fiorentina midfielder, Mohammed Sissoko, in the Malian wall, displaced the keeper and strolled into the empty net. Mali looked psychologically drained but tried to stage a comeback in the second half like they did against Angola in 2010, when they came back from four goals down to draw 4-all. All their efforts were squashed when Ahmed Musa who had come on for the impressive Victor Moses five minute earlier, raced onto John Obi Mikel’s defence- splitting pass, and slotted the ball through the legs of Samassa to make it four. Mali grabbed a late consolation through Cheik Diarra but it is the Super Eagles who make it through to the finals as Stephen Keshi aims to join the illustrious league of men who have won the African Cup of Nations as player (captain) and coach. Mali’s Line Up: 01 Samassa – 02 Diawara (Booked), 03 Tamboura, 13 Wague, 21 Ndiaye – 06 Sissoko (Diabate – 56′), 08 K Traore, 12 Keita, 17 M Traore (Sow – 66′ Booked) – 10 Maiga Booked (C Diarra – 46′), 15 Samassa Subs: 16 So Diakite, 22 Yirango, 04 A Coulibaly, 05 I Coulibaly, 19 S Coulibaly, 23 O Coulibaly, 11 S Diarra, 18 Sow, 20 Sa Diakite, 07 C Diarra, 09 Diabate Nigeria’s Line Up: 01 Enyeama – 03 Echiejile, 05 Ambrose Booked (Yobo – 81′), 14 Obobona, 22 Omeruo – 17 Onazi, 10 Mikel, 19 Mbah – 09 Emenike, 08 Brown (Uzoenyi – 71′), 11 Moses (Musa – 53′) Subs: 16 Ejide, 23 Agbim, 02 Yobo, 06 Egwueke, 21 Oshaniwa, 04 Obiorah, 12 Gabriel, 13 Ogude, 20 Igiebor, 07 Musa, 15 Uche, 18 Uzoenyi Referee: Bakary Gassama Attendance: 54,000   BURKINA FASO 1-1 GHANA (BURKINA FASO wins 3-2 on penalties) burkina faso ghana flags One of the tournament underdogs, Burkina Faso weathered all storms to make it to the finals of the 2013 African Cup of Nations after besting Ghana in a dramatic shoot-out. The referee, Slim Jedidi from Tunisia had a horrendous outing and it appeared as though he was against the Burkina Faso side throughout the game. Jedidi denied the Stallions penalties in regulation time and extra time, ruled out a goal that should have stood and also wrongfully sent off their most outstanding player, Jonathan Pitroipa in Extra time. Minutes after denying Pitroipa a penalty for a blatant push by Ghana defender, John Boye; Jedidi pointed to the spot when he ruled that defender Mady Panandetiguiri pushed down Porto midfielder, Christian Atsu. Mubarak Wakaso stepped up to score his third penalty and fourth goal of the tournament. The Stallions came back fighting in the second half and restored parity through Aristide Bance, who placed the ball past a hapless Dauda in Ghana goal, after Emmanuel Badu was robbed off the ball in defence. Paul Koulibaly was lucky to receive just a yellow card when he kicked the Ghana captain, Asamoah Gyan in his penalty area. With the game locked at one all, the game went into extra time. Everybody, including Nakuloma thought he had grabbed the winner for Burkina Faso when he raced unto a through ball, displacing Kwadwo Asamoah and placed the ball past the on-rushing keeper, Fatai Dauda but the referee made another horrific call and ruled out the goal for a ‘spiritual’ foul. Minutes later, Jonathan Pitroipa was hacked down in Ghana’s penalty area, but instead of the referee to award a penalty to Pitroipa, he booked the mercurial winger for simulation – his yellow card of the game and an early bath. This means Pitroipa will miss the final of the 2013 AFCON against Nigeria on Sunday unless CAF overturns the decision. The two teams were inseparable after Extra time and the game went down to penalties for a winner to emerge. Emmanuel Agyemang missed Ghana’s fifth penalty to hand the Stallions the win. Pan Pierre Koulibaly was the only player to miss from the spot for Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso will play Nigeria in the final of the competition on Sunday while Ghana has to jostle for the third place with Mali. Burkina Faso’s Line Up: 01 Diakite – 04 Kone, 08 P Koulibaly (Booked), 12 Panandetiguiri, 05 Koffi (H Traore – 90′) – 06 Kone, 07 Rouamba, 11 Pitroipa (Dismissed), 18 Kabore – 22 Nakoulma, 15 Bance Subs: 16 Soulama, 23 Sanou, 03 H Traore, 10 Al Traore, 13 Ouattara, 14 Balima, 17 Rabo, 20 Sanou, 21 Traore, 02 Dah,  09 Dagano, 19 PP Koulibaly Ghana’s Line Up: 16 Dauda – 04 Pantsil (Asante – 10′), 15 Vorsah, 21 Boye, 23 Afful – 07 Atsu, 08 Agyemang, 11 Rabiu Booked (D Boateng – 47′ Booked) – 20 Asamoah, 03 Gyan, 22 Wakaso (Clottey – 104′) Subs: 01 Adjei, 12 Larsen, 02 R Boateng, 05 Awal, 13 Akaminko, 19 Mensah, 06 Annan, 09 D Boateng, 10 Adomah, 14 Asante, 17 Clottey, 18 Boakye Referee: Slim Jedidi Attedance: 35,000

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This article was first published on 7th February 2013 and updated on February 12th, 2013 at 10:48 am

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