Nigeria finish third in Afcon

2006-02-09 20:20
Cairo - Nigeria defeated Senegal 1-0 to win the third-place playoff of the African Nations Cup here on Thursday.

Garba Lawal netted the winner in the 80th minute when he stabbed home from inside the box after Senegal goalkeeper Papa Mamadou Diouf could not get a hand to Utaka's cross from the right.

Both teams had clashed earlier in the competition with the Super Eagles winning 2-1.

For this third-place playoff match Nigeria fielded their top starting 11 while Senegal paraded a second-string team with the likes of Papa Bouba Diop and Henri Camara only coming on as substitutes.

It was to the credit of the two teams that they managed to make a contest of what is usually a routine affair.

Nigeria skipper Austin "Jay Jay" Okocha, 32, was also winning his 74th cap and most probably his last after he announced before this tournament it will be his final international engagement with his country.

Both teams looked bright from kick-off. In the 12th minute Taye Taiwo's freekick from the edge of the box after John Utaka was fouled by Senegal defender Drame Boukary came off the crossbar and back into play.

Press for the opening goal

There was a lot more aggression in the Nigerian play than in previous games where their ball movement was sluggish as they continued to press for the opening goal.

In the 25th minute Senegal defender Guirane Ndaw's hopeful lob from distance almost caught Enyeama napping but the Nigeria goalkeeper did well to push it for a corner and moments later Issa Ba found himself all alone around the Eagles area but his shot did not trouble Enyeama.

Four minutes later, Senegal goalkeeper Mamadou Diouf made a hash of Garba Lawal's corner but Joseph Yobo ballooned the rebound sky high from inside the box as Nigeria kept up the pressure.

Nice striker Souleymane Camara on 34 minutes blasted wide a big chance after he got to the end of a long ball and moments later at the other end of the pitch, Obafemi Martins failed to connect with his head a cross from the right to the respite of the Teranga Lions.

However, the best chance of the first half fell to Senegal just before the break when they carved open the Nigerian defence from the left but Barry Rahmane's shot missed target narrowly.

Martins could not make anything out of a through ball immediately play resumed in the second half even after he had evaded the onrushing goalkeeper. Nsofor also tested the alertness of Diouf in the Senegal goal.

On 66 minutes Martins failed to score from a glaring chance off a low cross by Utaka as both teams created few scoring opportunities before Lawal struck to give Nigeria the day.

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