BENGUELA, Angola (AFP) - Nigeria pipped Algeria 1-0 to claim the third place honours at the Africa Cup of Nations here on Saturday.
Obinna Nsofor scored the match winner in the 55th minute when he sprinted through a crowded Algerian defence before slotting past diving goalkeeper Lamine Zemmamouche.
This was the Super Eagles' seventh third-place finish at the Nations Cup as they also took bronze in 1976, 78, '92, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu said he was at least satisfied his team finished in third even though their target was to win the championship.
"The match was above average especially in the first half and we started with a little bit of fear. Any team that scored first would have won the game.
"However, we had to psyche ourselves because we needed to win the third place," he said.
"We have done well enough even though we may not have played to our full potential, but with longer preparations we can do a lot better. We improved with each game, we were not at our best in Angola but we can be better before the World Cup."
Amodu also dismissed speculation that he could be fired before the World Cup in June.
"I have never been bothered about speculation about my future because they are just speculation. My employers are satisfied with my work," he said.
Algeria skipper Yazid Mansouri admitted his team were tired but at the same time disappointed they finished the tournament empty handed.
"We were tired, but we did not do as well as we would have wanted to. We will move ahead and learn form the mistakes we made at this tournament," Mansouri said.
"We have to work very hard to get ready for the World Cup especially in the midfield and attack. The Nations Cup has afforded us a chance to know where we have to improve."
Nigeria made several changes from the team that lost 1-0 to Ghana in the semi-finals with Portsmouth forward Nwankwo Kanu, Nsofor and Seyi Olofinjana among the players who started their first game of the tournament.
Algeria were missing three players suspended from their semi-final loss to Egypt.
Nigeria would have gone ahead after 10 minutes but Nsofor's shot from inside the box was deflected by Algerian defender Slimane Raho for a corner.
Kanu also fired at the Algerian goal after 31 minutes but goalkeeper Zemmamouche held it first-time.
Algeria's best chance at goal in the first half came two minutes from the interval, when Lazio midfielder Mourad Meghni hooked his shot over the bar from almost the top of the 18-yard box.
Just before the break, Nigeria again came close to going in front but Kalu Uche's pass inside the area after a clever ball from Kanu rolled away from goal after Nsofor lost his footing at the crucial moment.
In the 50th minute, Algeria goalkeeper Zemmamouche failed to hold on to a powerful Taye Taiwo freekick from distance, the lively Nsofor got to the rebound only for his effort from eight yards out to crash against the crossbar.
Hassan Yebda was on target in the 72nd minute but Victor Enyeama in the Nigerian goal gathered the low shot as the Algerians now played with more urgency following Nsofor's opener.
Nigeria then held on to their slender advantage to take some consolation out of Angola 2010 ahead of the World Cup.
|Coach: S. Amodu|
for K. Uche 65'
for N. Kanu 78'
for C. Obasi 81'
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