Posted by News Express | 10 February 2013 | 3,873 times
Ahead of this evening’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final against Burkina Faso in South Africa, Nigeria’s Super Eagles have welcomed the unbanning of Burkinabe danger man Jonathan Pitroipa but said he can’t stop them from returning home with the trophy.
Rennes of France star Pitroipa had his red card against Ghana in the semi-final of the AFCON overturned by the Confederation of African Football to enable him feature in today’s cracker at the National Stadium in Johannesburg.
But rather than fret over the development both the Nigerian coaching crew and the players are calm about it. While Coach Stephen Keshi welcomed Pitroipa’s return, full back Elderson Echiejile reflected the mindset of the team when he declared that Nigeria are headed for glory and that Pitroipa cannot stop them.
“I believe Pitroipa’s return for the final is a big boost for Burkina Faso, but with or without him, we are winning this cup,” said 25-year-old Elderson, who scored his first international goal against Mali on Wednesday in Durban.
“He’s a very creative player who initiates most of his team’s attacks, but we will be champions,” added Elderson, a full international since 2009 who currently plies his trade with Sporting Braga of Portugal, but previously featured for Rennes in the French top flight.
On his part, Keshi, who will be without the services of injured goal poacher Emmanuel Emenike, hailed the return of Pitroipa, saying: “I applaud the decision taken by CAF to rescind the decision on the red card given Pitroipa.”
News Express reports that Nigeria’s first match at the tournament was against Burkina Faso on January 21, with Pitroipa conjuring a late equaliser and eventually helping the underdogs to top Group C.
This is the Burkinabes first ever final while Nigeria won the trophy in 1980 as hosts and in 1994 in Tunisia.
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