In 2012, Nigeria didn't qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations and Burkina Faso was eliminated in the group stage without securing a single point. In 2013, the two countries are prepared to battle for the tournament championship.
It's the second meeting of the event between the two sides. In Group C play, Emmanuel Emenike gave the Super Eagles a first-half lead that they held until the dying moments of the match, when Alain Traore scored an equalizer for the Stallions.
The injured Traore won't be available this time around to bail out Burkina Faso, but its strong defense should ensure another intriguing match for the final. While Nigeria enters as the favorite, the Stallions have been no stranger to upsets so far.
Let's take a look at all the key information for Sunday's AFCON clash, followed by a match preview and a prediction for which country will lift the trophy.
When: Sunday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa
Watch: EuroSport (Live stream only in U.S.)
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Burkina Faso wasn't even on the radar when the tournament started. It was buried beneath a barrage of other contenders, including the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the latter of which was eliminated by the Stallions in the semifinals.
It's clear they entered the event with a plan to play defense-first football in a group that also featured Nigeria and defending champion Zambia. It worked. They finished atop Group C after allowing just one goal in three matches.
That terrific form carried over to the knockout rounds. Led by Paul Koulibaly and Bakary Kone, the Burkina Faso back line held Togo scoreless for 120 minutes in a 1-0 quarterfinal win. The only goal the Stallions allowed in their semifinal win over Ghana came from the penalty spot.
They are going to need more attacking opportunities to succeed in the final, but defense will remain the foundation. Nigeria is coming off a four-goal showing in the semifinals against Mali, so Burkina Faso will have its hands full.
The Super Eagles are definitely the more dangerous team in the final. They will suffer a serious hit if Victor Moses, whose status remains uncertain according to the Associated Press, is unable to suit up on Sunday.
Moses and Emenike have done tremendous work on the wings for Nigeria. Losing one of them at this point would be a setback, but the squad does have some good depth. Another attacker, likely Ahmed Musa, is capable of at least minimizing the impact.
It would also put a greater onus on Sunday Mba and Ogenyi Onazi to join the attack. The Super Eagles are in a position where they have to make sure they are in control of the match by dominating possession and spending a lot of time in the attacking third.
Burkina Faso's defense is stout right now. If Nigeria isn't able to maintain constant pressure, the path to victory becomes a lot more difficult. It would be an easier task with Moses, but the game plan doesn't change without him.
Based on the way the previous meeting, and nearly the entire Africa Cup of Nations for that matter, has gone, anything other than a close match would be a surprise. Ultimately, Nigeria should have a big enough talent advantage to pull out the win.
Prediction: Nigeria 2, Burkina Faso 1 (after extra time)
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