The home-based Super Eagles yesterday zoomed into the final of the ongoing WAFU Cup of Nations taking place in Ghana by beating Benin Republic by a lone goal. The Nigerian team will meet Ghana, who defeated Niger Republic 2-0 in the second semifinal, in the final of the competition on Sunday.
The Eagles took the lead in the 11th minute after beautiful counter-attacking football, which saw Anthony Okpotu play Rabiu Ali through on goal and he showed all the composure of a veteran to coolly slot past the keeper, 1-0.
Nigeria almost doubled their lead on the half hour mark when a right wing cross from Moses Okoro was met by John Friday, but his 10-yard volley was superbly saved by the Benin keeper.
Things went from bad to worse for Benin when they were reduced to 10 men in the 35thminute following a second yellow card for Marcellin Koukpo.
The Super Eagles controlled the remainder of the half, but failed to add to the shoreline before the break. Seven minutes into the second half Benin nearly found an equaliser when Jules Elegbede met a right wing cross, but he blazed over from close range.
In the 57th minute Nigeria almost scored their second goal when John Friday met a corner-kick with a strong header, but his 10-yard effort shaved the wrong side of the crossbar.
Peter Moses should have put the game beyond doubt in the 73rd minute when he found himself in space only six-yards out from goal, but the Benin goalkeeper superbly thwarted him.
Eight minutes later the Benin keeper came to his country’s rescue again, this time denying Afeez Aremu a headed goal with a diving save from eight-yards out.
The Super Eagles continued to push forward in the dying minutes of the game, but their finishing in front of goal was poor as the game ended 1-0.
The Eagles have been solid in the defense as they are yet to concede any goal after five matches in the sub-regional football tournament.
Speaking with The Guardian from Accra, Ghana yesterday, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick urged the team to go all out and win the trophy on Sunday.
“I am in Accra at the moment, and all I can say is that the team should go all out and win the trophy,” Pinnick stated.