Wayne Rooney and a rhinoceros

The ultimate preview of the 2013 Afcon Final: Will it be Stephen Keshi's time or can the Burkinabé shock the world in Soweto?

Outside Soccer City, site of the 2013 Afcon final (Image by Matthew Perkins, via Flickr CC).

Nineteen years ago, a Super Eagles team captained by one Stephen Okechukwu Keshi won the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunis. Will it be Keshi’s time again in Soweto today? We leave the serious predictions to the professionals. Check out the latest from BBC reporter Peter Okwoche (we love him) who staged a pre-final prediction match between a bunch of kids. The video is cute, but we’re suspicious that  Team Nigeria seemed to get all the bigger kids. Where was the Sowetan Burkinabés version of Dagano? Anyway, the game ended with an assured 3-1 victory for Nigeria, but then what would you expect from a game set up by a reporter named Okwoche? Watch it here.

Others aren’t so sure about the Super Eagles chances. Top football analyst Michael Cox has detailed tactical analysis (well worth reading to get a sense of where today’s game will be won and lost) of both teams’ semi-final victories, Burkina’s over Ghana and Nigeria’s over Mali. Cox likes Nigeria, but on the strength of what he saw in the semis, he reckons Burkina may be the better side: “if they play with the same level of cohesion and fluidity [as they did vs Ghana], Burkina Faso will defeat Nigeria on Sunday evening.”

Cox reserves his strongest praise for Aristide Bancé, one of this blog’s favorite players at Afcon:

This was as good a centre-forward display as you’ll see in international football. Bancé was involved in everything – he sprinted in behind for chances on the counter, he had a header saved on the goal-line from a corner, he could drop deep and encourage the wide players beyond him. He even showed great defensive ability – at one point rushing back to stop a Ghana counter-attack himself, when most other forwards would have left that to the midfielders.

So look out for Burkina, and watch out for Bancé.

We’re just hearing Emmanuel Emenike won’t start the final, a big blow for the Nigerians. That man has been playing like he’s a cross between Wayne Rooney and a rhinoceros. Still, the Nigerians are confident. Is anyone surprised? Like this fan observed by Jonathan Wilson, the British football journalist: “Just seen a Nigeria fan wearing a loaf on his head, bearing the message ‘Eat them like bread’.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.