On Sunday, it was all about Sunday—Sunday Mba, that is. The Nigerian scored the lone goal in the final at the Africa Cup of Nations, giving Nigeria a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso and the tournament championship.
Emmanuel Emenike of Nigeria won the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer, while Burkina Faso's Jonathan Pitroipa won the Orange Man of the Competition.
Mba broke the scoreless draw in the 40th minute with a brilliant individual effort that was arguably the finest goal of the tournament. After a Victor Moses shot was blocked by the defense, Mba scooped up the ball, flicked it past a defender and knocked it home past the keeper.
And that's all it would take.
Each team had injury concerns coming into the game, with Emenike missing the contest for Nigeria, while Burkina Faso's Alain Traore was named as a substitute despite many believing he was done for the tournament after sustaining an injury in the group stage.
The two sides tied 1-1 during the group stage, but Nigeria looked the better team in that match, and they did early on in this one as well, with a few very nice chances early in the game. Burkina Faso's defense held in the first half until Mba struck with his brilliant effort.
Meanwhile, Victor Moses continued his fine tournament. After creating several chances in the first half, he found Brown Ideye open, who nearly gave Nigeria a two-goal lead early in the second half.
And it would be Moses who was the most threatening on the counterattack as Nigeria sat deeper defensively and waited to capitalize on a Burkina Faso error as the game wore on.
Burkina Faso would have its chances. A Wilfried Sanou shot was be nicked just wide by Nigerian keeper Vincent Enyeama, keeping the Super Eagles in the lead.
But in general, it was Nigeria who had the majority of the strong chances in the second half. On one three-on-two break, Ahmed Musa lost his balance just in front of the goal (the pitch was once again miserable, an unfortunate theme at this tournament).
Then twice within the final five minutes of regulation, both Moses and Ideye would come close to scoring, the former unable to sneak the ball past the keeper and the latter coming up just short for an easy tap-in off a low, fizzing cross.
Burkina Faso simply didn't have the cutting edge in the attacking third to level in the end.
For Nigeria, this is not only an excellent moment, but a bit of retribution for a team widely decried as talented but underachieving. Nigeria dispatched Ivory Coast—the most formidable team in the group stage and one of Africa's finest sides—the experienced Mali and finally Burkina Faso to win this tournament.
Quite the run for the Super Eagles. And quite the Sunday for Nigeria.