Nigeria returned to the top of African football yesterday by beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the Cup of Nations final for their first continental title in nearly two decades.
Sunday Mba's superb goal in the 40th minute delivered another triumph for coach Stephen Keshi after he captained Nigeria to their last African Cup crown in 1994.
"Winning this tournament is mainly for my nation," Keshi said. "When I came on-board a year and a half ago, my dream was to make all Nigerians happy."
Mba decided the game in front of around 87,000 fans at Soccer City with a left-foot volley into the far right corner after he expertly controlled a rebound and clipped the ball over a defender.
Underdog Burkina Faso fell short of what would have been a surprising triumph in their first final, having progressed beyond the group stage for only the second time at the African championship. The Burkinabes still exceeded all expectations by just making the final.
Mba's goal came after Victor Moses' shot was blocked and was worthy of deciding a final. In three swift motions, Mba controlled the ball, chipped it over Mohamed Koffi and then volleyed across goalkeeper Daouda Diakite and into the far right corner for the title-clinching goal.
It gave Nigeria their third African Cup title and made Keshi just the second man to win the tournament as both a player and coach. He is the first black African coach to win the continent's biggest prize in over 20 years.
"I'm so, so proud of what they did at this tournament," Keshi said of his team.
The victory ended 19 years of disappointment for Africa's most populous nation and also made it the last country to qualify for June's Confederations Cup in Brazil as continental champion.