Nigeria in the finals after crushing Mali

Nigerian players celebrating

Nigerian players celebrating

Nigeria displayed the class of real champions when they crushed Mali 4-1 and stayed on course to win the African Nations Cup for the first time in 19 years on Wednesday.

A superb semifinal at the Moses Mabhida stadium was won and lost in a blistering 20-minute first-half spell in which Nigeria scored three goals to leave them dreaming of a first title since current coach Stephen Keshi captained them to glory in 1994.

Goals from defender Elderson Echiejile, who stooped to head home after 25 minutes, Brown Ideye, who scrambled one in after 30 minutes and an own goal from Mali defender Momo Sissoko a minute before halftime put Keshi’s team in total control.

They made it 4-0 when substitute Ahmed Musa, who replaced the outstanding Victor Moses after 53 minutes scored three minutes after coming on, beating the offside trap and slipping the ball through goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa’s legs.

Nigeria also had the ball in the net for a fifth time shortly afterwards, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Keshi is now one victory away from becoming only the second man in the tournament’s 56-year history to win it as a player and coach. The only person to have achieved the feat is Egyptian Mahmoud El Gohary, who won it in 1959 and 1998.

Mali, who famously came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Angola in the opening game of the 2010 finals, never looked like repeating that feat but did score a consolation when substitute Cheick Diarra fired home in the 75th minute.

Source: SuperSport