Nigeria lifted the Africa Cup of Nations title for the first time in 19 years with a 1-0 win over underdogs Burkina Faso at the National Stadium, in Johannesburg, on Sunday night.
The Super Eagles, playing in the tournament finale for the seventh time, took the lead through Sunday Mba in the 40th minute and held on to secure their third continental crown, and their first since 1994.
The result ended a dream run from the Berkinabe, who reached the semifinals for only the second time in their history, before edging Ghana on penalties to book their place in the gold medal match.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will arrive Abuja at 1pm Tuesday aboard a special flight laid on by the nation’s largest airline, Arik Air.
In formed sources told over the weekend that the team will deliberately be kept in South Africa 24 hours after the curtains fell on the 29th edition of the African Cup of Nations because President Goodluck Jonathan wants to personally be on ground to receive the victorious players, who did the nation proud by beating the Stallions of Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
Jonathan, who had hinted that he would be physically present at the National Stadium, Johannesburg to cheer the Eagles on, was unable to keep his promise due to some pressing diplomatic issues which took him to Paris and London.
And although the President tried to make up for his absence in South Africa by sending a high powered delegation led by Senate President, David Mark to represent him, it is clear that he wants to make it up with the team by laying on a ‘presidential welcome’ for the Eagles.
According to sources, in keeping with the mood of the occasion, Arik Air will be using one of its flagship planes, the Airbus A340-500 to convey the players and officials in comfort the six hours to the nation’s capital, Abuja.
All things being equal, the 237-seater plane will leave Johannesburg’s Oliver Tambo International Airport at 9am South African time (8am Nig time) and is expected to touch down at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at about 1pm Tuesday.