The Super Eagles home-based team were yesterday beaten 1-0 by neighbours, Benin Republic in the first leg of their Kenya 2018 CHAN qualifiers held at the Stade d’Amitie Cotonou.
The Salisu Yusuf-tutored team held their own until the dying minutes of the game when they succumbed to a late penalty awarded for Afeez Aremu’s rough play in the 90th minute.
Aremu failed to properly clear a ball in the Eagles’ box and while trying to correct his error, he was adjudged to have fouled a Beninoise player.Skipper Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who had an excellent game could not stop the resultant penalty, but the Eagles will take solace in the fantastic display by majority of the play on an uneven pitch.
The second and deciding leg of the tie will hold in Kano on August 19 with the winner on aggregate advancing to the CHAN.In another qualifier yesterday in Cairo, Egypt were held to a 1-1 home draw by Morocco.
The Pharaohs enjoyed a great start of the game as Ahmed El-Sheikh opened the scoring as early as the second minute, converting a penalty kick he earned himself.
The visitors managed to recover from this stunning start and slowly gained control of the game.In the 53rd minute, Badr Banoun capitalised on the Atlas Lions’ domination after rising to a free kick to send a powerful header to the back of the net.
Egyptian keeper Mohamed Awad emerged as a hero in the 61st minute when he blocked a penalty kick from Abdelilah Hafidi.He also made several superb saves to prevent the hosts from conceding a defeat.
The return leg will be in Rabat on Friday and the winner of the two-legged tie will reach the finals, which will be played in Kenya in January.Egypt is taking part in the African Nations Championship – a tournament exclusively featuring players who are active in the national championships – for the first time since its foundation in 2009.