Nigeria Progress to South Africa 2013

After failing to qualify for the last AFCON co-hosted by Congo DR and Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria needed to restore their pride by being in South Africa next year. The AFCON qualifier which doubles as a FIFA world cup qualifier was crucial for the resurgent Nigerians. The Super Eagles ran rout over the Lone Stars of Liberia in the beautiful city of Calabar to book their ticket to AFCON 20113.
The starting eleven raised some eyebrows with the exclusion of high flying Ikechukwu Uche. Vincent Enyeama captained the side with the omission of Joseph Yobo due to injury. Efe Ambrose, Egwuekwe Azubuike, Oboabona Godfrey and Elderson Echiejile made up the back four; Mikel Obi, Obiora Nwankwo and Nosa Igiebor were the midfielders; while Emmanuel Emenike spearheaded the attack, flanked by Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses.
Before you could say Jack Robinson, Nigeria took the lead in the 2nd minute thanks to a Victor Moses freekick headed in by Celtic’s Efe Ambrose. Speedy Ahmed Musa had been brought down for the kick. A low cross from Lokomotiv Moscow’s Emenike was dabbed in by CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa to make it 2-0, 7 minutes before half time.
2 minute after the break, Chelsea forward, Victor Moses got his first international goal as he converted Nosa Igiebor’s pass. 5 minutes later, Returnee Mikel Obi converted from the spot to make it 4-0 after Nosa Igiebor was fouled in the box by the Liberian goalkeeper.
Ahmed Musa, who has given a come-and-get-me plea to Arsenal, assisted Real betis’ Ikechukwu Uche in the 72nd before Wleh Ronaldinho pulled a consolation for the Lone Stars thanks to a Sekou Oliseh through pass in the 81st minute. Moses rounded up play, heading in a cross from fellow Chelsea teammate, Mikel, 3 minutes before regulation time.
Onazi Ogenyi made his debut for Nigeria coming as a sub in the closing moments for Obiora Nwankwo. Ikechukwu Uche came in for Emmanuel Emmenike before Brown Ideye subbed Nosa Igiebor.
6-1!!?? It has been long Nigerians have scored more than 2 goals. The last time Nigeria scored more than 5 goals in a match was in an AFCON qualifier against Ethiopia in 1991 which ended 7-1. Nigeria missed a lot of goals, it would have been worse for the Liberians.
Enyeama (6.5) could do nothing to prevent the Liberian goal. He was lucky to still be on the pitch after the Liberian skipper was adjourned to have dived.
Efe Ambrose (6.5) had a bad game to my standards. Good header for the opener but staggered through the game.
Oboabona Godfrey (7) did a good job but could do little for the Liberian goal.
Egwuekwe Azubuike (6.5) partnership with Godfrey wasn’t superb but had a decent game.
Elderson Echiejile (6) had a disjoint play. There was no bite from him. Decent play
Mikel Obi (7) had a bad first half but was superb in the second half. Too many incomplete passes from the Chelsea man but stayed cool to convert from the spot and assisted Moses for the last goal; Great game from the lad.
Nwankwo Obiora (6.5) had a below par game for me especially in the first half. Je had a decent second half.
Nosa Igiebor (7) had two assists and unlucky not to score. Though he had some disjointed passes.
Victor Moses (8) had a great game. Two goals and an assist!! Great play from the Chelsea forward.
Ahmed Musa (8) was my man of the match. He fizzled out towards the dying minutes but was instrumental to the first goal, scored another and grabbed an assist. His pace caused troubles for the lone stars.
Emmanuel Emmenike (7) provided an assist for the second goal. He had good hold-up play and link play. He was unlucky to be subbed for uche because he would have scored.
Ikechukwu Uche (7) scored a good goal and missed several others. He was eager to play but it was better he came in later on.
Onazi Ogenyi and Brown Ideye did little.
The Super eagles had a bad team but good individual play. As a team, the passes were not connecting, the anxiety was visible and there was no cohesion. The midfield was exposed, the defence was shaky but the attackers were superb. But the score flatters. This team could be the team we have all been waiting for. Hope we prepare well before the tournament proper.
So Nigeria goes through 8-3 on aggregate, after the first leg ended in a 2-2 draw. Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia and defending champions Zambia are also through to South Africa 2013. Cameroon lost out 2-3 on aggregate to Cape Verde, despite winning 2-1 in Yaoundé, while Ethiopia triumphed over Sudan. Niger, Togo, Congo DR, Angola, Algeria and Burkina Faso complete the draw. Expect a tough competition next year.

Written by Amos Chibuzor