Nigeria vs. Burkina Faso: Why Stallions Will Shine in AFCON Final

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2013

NELSPRUIT, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 06:  Rouamba Florent of Burkina Faso in action during the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Final match between Burkina Faso and Ghana at the Mbombela Stadium on February 6, 2013 in Nelspruit, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images

It has been a long journey for both teams, but Nigeria and Burkina Faso will go head to head in the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

Both clubs own five points in the Group C table and have played their best soccer when it counts, allowing them to reach the AFCON finals.

While the Nigeria team has been excellent of late—coming off a 4-1 victory over Mali that saw four different players score—the Stallions have the edge heading into Sunday's finale.

Burkina Faso enters Sunday's match coming off a close shootout victory over Ghana that saw the Stallions make it to their first AFCON final (h/t ESPN).

Burkina has won two straight matches and has seen 24-year-old midfielder Alain Traoré lead the Stallions through the tournament.

Traoré has found the back of the net three times during the AFCON, highlighted by a goal against Nigeria when these two clubs met back on Jan. 21.

The midfielder scored with practically no time left in the match to tie it at one and provide the Stallions with a point against Nigeria.

The Guardian reports that Traoré will serve as a sub in Sunday's crucial match with Nigeria, but I believe Burkina still has the edge.

Burkina enters this match knowing it didn't play its best soccer last time out against the Super Eagles, yet it was still able to pick up a point.

Midfielder Jonathan Pitroipa has proved to be a legitimate scoring threat during the AFCON and should be able to pick up some of the slack in Traoré's absense.

Pitroipa scored the lone goal against Togo that helped Burkina earn a spot in Sunday's final.

With the Stallions having won two matches since that time—highlighted by a 4-0 drubbing of Ethiopia—Burkina Faso is playing at an extremely high level.

With one of Nigeria's leading scorers, Emmanuel Emenike, reportedly out for the Nigeria, Burkina Faso will be claiming its first AFCON title.

It'll be a close match, but I like the Stallions to come away with the victory. Having never won the title before, Burkina Faso will utilize the underdog mentality to win the cup on Sunday.

Prediction: Burkina Faso wins, 2-1


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