Moses proves key for Nigeria in African Cup final
(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer
JOHANNESBURG (AP) Victor Moses came up big for Nigeria in the African Cup of Nations final after recovering from injury just in time to play in Sunday's game at Soccer City.
The Chelsea striker was involved in the buildup that led to Nigeria' winning goal scored by Sunday Mba, and was voted the best player of the match.
He was listed as doubtful because of a left ankle injury that kept him from practicing much in the days before the final, but didn't seem to be bothered by it and was able to effectively lead the Nigerian attack.
The responsibility fell on Moses even more after Emmanuel Emenike failed to recover in time from a muscle injury and was left out of the final. Emenike finished as one of the tournament's leading scorers with four goals along with Ghana midfielder Wakaso Mubarak, who missed a penalty in his team's loss to Mali in the consolation match on Saturday.
"Everybody came through with a great match and that's what we needed," team captain Joseph Yobo said. "Everyone gave something extra and it made the difference."
The Super Eagles won their third African Cup title, and first since 1994.
Moses rushed to hug his teammates after the final whistle then quickly picked up a Nigeria flag from the team's supporters and ran with it around the stadium.
Moses was limping heavily the day after he got injured in the semifinals and didn't practice normally just until the day before the final.
But he didn't seem to be bothered by it on Sunday, and near the end he was even back on defense helping his teammates.
Moses helped create Nigeria's goal in the 40th minute. His shot from inside the area was blocked by a defender and the rebound fell to Mba, who beat two defenders before finding the net.
Moses had his best chance to score on a breakaway in the 55th, when he had only one defender to beat inside the area but couldn't get a firm shot on goal.
His first action came in the seventh minute, taking a free kick that led to a dangerous header by defender Efe Ambrose. He made another dangerous cross in the 20th after speeding past a defender near the sideline.
Moses made a good run through the midfield before being stopped with a foul in the 33rd and in the 48th he threatened again after entering the area and setting up Brown Ideye's dangerous shot from close range.
Moses sustained his injury in the second half of Nigeria's 4-1 win over Mali in the semifinals on Wednesday, forcing him to be replaced. He had set up the team's first two goals in Durban, including one by Emenike.
The Chelsea striker played a key role in the final group match against Ethiopia too, setting up two late penalty kicks and converting them to save the Super Eagles from early elimination.
The 22-year-old Moses played for England's youth squads for five years but opted last year to represent Nigeria's senior team.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni
Updated February 10, 2013