The wildly inconsistent Nigeria Super Eagles may have what it takes to make their mark on AFCON 2013. They have characteristically struggled to this point, but that’s nothing new for the two-time champions.
It took a bit of luck and some tenacity by youngster Victor Moses in the waning moments of the game for the Super Eagles to get it together and earn their way to the AFCON quarterfinals.
Moses, a 22-year-old forward from Chelsea, helped his struggling team to a 2-0 victory over Ethiopia by scoring two penalties in the final 10 minutes of action.
A loss or draw and Nigeria would have found themselves eliminated in the group phase in what would have been a disappointing exit, indeed.
But the spark from Moses is just a taste of what he can potentially do for this Nigerian team in the quarterfinals and beyond.
The focus of opposing defenses is more centered on stars Jon Obi Mikel and Ikechukwu Uche, freeing up Moses to work the attack with his net skills. He isn’t the most experienced, capable or seasoned on the Nigerian side, but he shows flashes of brilliance from time to time.
They’ll need some of that timely magic if they plan on running the table and adding another AFCON trophy to their trophy case.
Remaining teams in the competition include Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, the hosting South African club and the Cape Verde Islands side.
That’s a formidable list of challengers as the tournament shifts to the quarterfinal knockout round.
Besides the Nigerians, Burkina Faso (first-place finishers in Nigeria’s group) and Ghana are also heavily favored to make a run in South Africa.
When all is said and done, the results must be shown out there on the pitch. One performance can make or break a tournament and Moses’ did just that for his country by propelling them to the next level.
No, winning the AFCON isn’t anything new for Nigeria. But doing it convincingly and leaving no doubt when all is said and done would be a welcomed outcome for the Super Eagles.