Monday Kickoff: Nigeria wins third African title, Ferguson chooses title-clinching strategy, and more

BY DAN KARELL

Nigeria is back on top of the African football landscape, after a gritty 1-0 victory over Cinderella side Burkina Faso in the African Cup of Nations final.

Nigerian midfielder Sunday Mba scored the game’s only goal in the 40th minute in stunning fashion, flicking the ball over a defender with his right foot, before finishing into the far post with his left.

The title, third in the nation’s history, comes just two-and-a-half years after President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the side following their disappointing crash from the 2010 World Cup. Though the suspension was lifted just a few days later, Nigeria’s football team was not in the best of shape.

Now, they’re headed for the Confederations Cup this summer in Brazil.

Here are some more stories to kickoff your week:

FERGUSON CHANGED PLANS FOLLOWING CITY DEFEAT

Following Manchester United’s 2-0 win yesterday over Everton, manager Sir Alex Ferguson stated that had a change of heart on Saturday evening, after Southampton beat Manchester City.

Ferguson was planning on resting some of his starters ahead of their big clash on Wednesday against Spanish giant’s Real Madrid, but seeing a chance to wrap up the Premier League title early, the Scot decided to play his big guns against Everton, a gamble which paid off precisely as he wanted. Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, and Tom Cleverly all played a full 90 for the home side in the win, with Van Persie and Ryan Giggs scoring the goals on Sunday afternoon.

United now sit 12 points up over second placed City, with just twelve matches remaining in the season.

SYDNEY FC PLAYS DOWN DEL PIERO MOVE

Late last week, reports emerged of former Brazilian star and current Flamengo manager Zico being interested in bringing Sydney FC forward Alessandro Del Piero over to Brazil to finish his career.

However, the Australian club has denied any rumors leading to Del Piero’s exit from Sydney. The 38-year-old former Italy international has scored 11 goals in 17 matches in his first season in the A-League, including a four goal outburst in a 7-1 win over Wellington Phoenix.

Del Piero has previously stated he would be interested in signing with Sydney through the end of 2014, when he would be 40-years-old.

QUICK KICKS

Arsenal much maligned left back André Santos has completed a loan move to Brazilian side Gremio. (REPORT)

Ajax star midfielder Christian Eriksen, who at the age of 20 is already a full Denmark international, has rejected a contract extension from the club. (REPORT)

Jose Mourinho has already picked his starting XI for Real Madrid’s match against Manchester United, according to Spanish publication Marca. (REPORT)

Sergio Ramos played down rumors of a rift in the Real Madrid locker room, saying he hopes Mourinho returns next season. (REPORT)

Andriy Shevchenko could make his return to the playing field after receiving a $100,00-per-game offer from Indonesian Super League club Mitra Kukar. (REPORT)

Chelsea are reportedly in advanced negotiations for the services of Chilean teenage sensation Cristian Cuevas. (REPORT)

Tottenham’s Emmanuel Adebayor is facing a big fine from his club after showing up late in England following Togo’s elimination from the African Cup of Nations. (REPORT)

Former English legend Paul Gascoigne is recovering after a stint in an intensive care unit following a bad reaction to his treatment for alcohol addiction. (REPORT)

Mario Balotelli became the target of racist abuse for the second time since joining AC Milan, this time from fans of his former club, Inter Milan, who chanted racist taunts about him during Inter’s win vs. Chievo on Sunday. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Impressed by Nigeria’s run to the title? Do you believe that Manchester United’s tactic on Sunday will hurt them on Wednesday? Do you see Del Piero staying in Australia, or moving somewhere else this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

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13 Responses to Monday Kickoff: Nigeria wins third African title, Ferguson chooses title-clinching strategy, and more

  1. NE Matt says:

    Wait so Balotelli had racist chants focused at him during a game in which neither team playing is the one he’s on and wasn’t even in the stadium? Wow, that’s some seriously messed up stuff from Inter fans. Glad I cut ties with them once Maicon “My Icon” left.

    • SilverRey says:

      Balotelli mst be seriously wondering if he made the right move, the VP of his own club is even making racist comments about him….

      • Nic D "The TX 2 Stepper" says:

        If he had identified as a Ghanaian instead of an “Italian” he would not have so much grief. The Italians NEVER wanted him, almost always maligned him in his troubles and have treated one of their country’s brightest stars with such indignities that are ineffable. Just ridiculous the amount of hate this kid has had to endure.

        RI – Di – Cu – lous!

  2. Funny man says:

    African Cup of Nations awarded Nigeria $10 million (US) in prize money. They just need Nigeria’s bank account and social security number and they will the money over immediately.

  3. Sly says:

    I guess I wont be wearing my Inter Jersey rest of this season. Since they were my only horse in Italy maybe I’ll start watching more French ligue 1.

    Saw a PSG game this weekend they played well but underwhelmed me… Just like all the other teams I support.

  4. ed - houston says:

    that’s a strong team RM are lining against Man U. i would venture to say Man U wants the EPL tittle more than the CL -especially how they lost the title last year in a matter of seconds.

  5. KFC says:

    So do all the Burkina Faso championship T-shirts get sent to Asia?

  6. kevin says:

    Italy is so screwed up

  7. Michael F. SBI Mafia Original says:

    Anyone who calls this a title clinching strategy wasn’t watching the EPL last season. Puhleeese, don’t call it “title clinching”. Anything can still happen. 25 points clinches the league. That’s 8 wins and a tie out of 13 games left. Not easy.