Nigeria keep CHAN hopes alive

Nigeria celebrate (Gallo Images)
Nigeria celebrate (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Nigeria were made to sweat before running out 4-2 winners over a plucky Mozambique side in a African Nations Championship match played at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night.

The result leaves Nigeria on three points, while Mozambique are yet to register any points.

The two other Group A sides, South Africa and Mali, each have four points, with one more round of matches to come.

The match got off to a thrilling start, both sides showing their attacking intent from kick off, with four goals coming in the opening 20 minutes.

Within two minutes of kick off, Nigerian number nine Fuad Salami found himself clean through on goal, but opposing goalkeeper Soares Soares was alert, flying out his box to make a brave block.

The first goal came somewhat against the run of play, Mozambique going in front on ten minutes through a brilliant long range free kick from captain Dario Khan, the ball swerving viciously to beat Nigeria goal keeper Chigozie Agbim from over 35-yards out.

The sizable Nigerian support base in the crowd were shocked, as were the Super Eagles players, but their reply was swift, the score back on level terms just a minute later when the Mambas were unable to clear a corner kick, allowing Rabiu Ali to steal in with a low-first time volley into the back of the net.

The action was relentless, a third goal arriving just two minutes after the previous strike as the Super Eagles took a 13th minute lead when Ifeanyi Ede’s rising drive proved too hot to handle for Mozambique number one Soares, who allowed the ball to slip through his hands.

But Nigeria’s lead was only six minutes, the Mambas back in the game when Diogo finished well, rounding the keeper before putting the ball into an empty net.

The pace of the game remained fast and furious, becoming a very entertaining spectacle, although there were no more clear-cut chances in the opening stanza, which ended with the scores locked at 2-2.

The second half saw Nigeria trying to slow play down a bit, playing a more patient passing game.

They failed to create openings, but were given the opportunity to take the lead when Mambas defender Monis Chimene got his arm in the way of a shot, conceding a penalty to the west Africans.

Ali stepped up to take the spot kick, the Kano Pillars FC man beating Soares to give Stephen Keshi’s team a 3-2 lead on 53 minutes.

More chances followed for Nigeria to add to the score-line, but an unmarked Ede headed over the bar, while former Bidvest Wits defender Almiro Lobo made a superb goal line clearance to deny Salami from tapping into an empty net.

The match was finally wrapped up two minutes before the end of regulation time when Barnabas Imenger ran on to a through ball before finishing with an excellent little chip over Soares.

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