Nigeria eye title after ousting Ivory Coast
RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP):
Nigeria were left as the team to beat at the African Cup of Nations after reaching the semi-finals by stunning Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast yesterday.
Just like Drogba, Emmanuel Adebayor also won't have a chance to win the tournament for the first time as Togo's remarkable run ended with a 1-0 loss to Burkina Faso in extra time in Nelspruit.
Two-time champions Nigeria looked impressive in their 2-1 win over the tournament favourites in Rustenburg, moving into good position to win their first title in nearly two decades.
"I know the mentality of my players and I knew they could do it," Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said.
The Super Eagles will try to advance to the final for the first time since 2000 when they face Mali on Wednesday in Durban. Burkina Faso reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1998, and will play Ghana the same day in Nelspruit.
The match in Rustenburg was one of the most anticipated of the quarter-finals, with some of the tournament's top names facing each other. Ivory Coast had Drogba, Arsenal's Gervinho and Manchester City's Yaya Toure, while Nigeria was led by Chelsea duo Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel.
one goal set, objective met
Nigeria opened the scoring in the 43rd minute after Ivory Coast veteran goalkeeper Boubacar Barry misplayed a long-range shot by Emmanuel Emenike, but Cheik Tiote equalised in the 50th with a header from a free kick cross taken by Drogba before Sunday Mba netted the winner with a shot from outside the area in the 78th.
Seeking their first title since 1994, Nigeria have advanced to the semi-finals for the sixth time in eight tournaments. They last made the final in 2000, when they lost to Cameroon on penalties.
"We had only one goal coming into the tournament and that was to win the African Cup of Nations," Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi said through a translator. "For some of us, it might have been a last chance."
In Nelspruit, Jonathan Pitroipa scored midway through extra time as Burkina Faso beat Adebayor's Togo 1-0.
Pitroipa was unmarked from a corner in the 105th minute to head past an out-of-position Kossi Agassa and in off the crossbar, taking Burkina through to the last four for just the second time - and first since they hosted the tournament in 1998.
"It was a dream that came true," Burkina Faso's Belgian coach Paul Put said. "What can you say? We are very happy. We didn't expect this result. Everybody in Burkina Faso was already satisfied (with the quarters), but I told the players we are here ... and we have the opportunity to play the semi-final."