Sunday, 20 August 2017

Eagles Qualify For CHAN 2018

Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was the hero on Saturday as the home-based Super Eagles beat Benin 2-0 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship 2-1 on aggregate.

The Eagles overturned a 1-0 first leg defeat in Cotonou a week earlier.

Goals from Kano Pillars forward Rabiu Ali and Lobi Stars striker Kingsley Eduwo in the 22nd and 47th minutes sealed a deserved victory for the dominant Nigerian side.

The Eagles’ qualification hopes seemed in disarray after Stephen Eze handled in the area in the 65th minute.
Captain Ezenwa rose to the occasion, saving the penalty kick from Benin captain Mama Seibou, who beat him from the spot in Cotonou a week ago.

The save ensured the Eagles advanced to the tournament in Kenya.

Coach Salisu Yusuf rang four changes to the team, which lost 1-0 in Cotonou. Ezenwa was in goal while Chima Akas, Osas Okoro, Stephen Eze and Emmanuel Ariwachukwu started in defence. Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Samuel Matthias, Alhassan Ibrahim and Stephen Odey were in midfield and Ali was paired in attack with Eduwo.

The Eagles dominated the match from the blast of the whistle and went close to scoring in the third minute when the big Eduwo, whose size proved a handful for the visitors all day, was through on goal but blazed his effort wide.

The Eagles were complacent in front of goal, with Odey, Ali and Eduwo missing chances afterwards.
But Ali benefited from a string of short passes in the 22nd minute and the Pillars man coolly slotted in for the Eagles’ first goal.

While the Kano crowd anxiously waited for the Eagles’ second goal, Akas saw his goal-bound free-kick come off the post with the Benin keeper beaten.
But the Eagles doubled their lead just two minutes after the break, with a header from Eduwo off a cross from Okoro.

The Sani Abacha Stadium was in silent mood in the 65th minute after the opponents were handed a penalty after a foul by Eze but it came alive after Ezenwa judged right to save from Seibou.
The Squirrels, coached by their ex-international Omar Tchamogo, staged a late fight but it was too little too late as the Eagles sealed a ticket to Kenya 2018.

Yusuf praised his team for getting the important win.

“They didn’t play fully to instruction but the win was important. There are many mistakes we observed in the team, and we will use the WAFU tournament to correct them before the CHAN begins next year,” he  Said.

“I was not surprised that Ezenwa saved the penalty because the goalkeeper trainers had gone through the routine with him in training. I am happy he saved it.”

In his remarks, the Air Officer Command, Mobility Command, Vice Marshal Steve Onu, said that through such sporting competition, there would be a synergy among the sister agencies.

He said the synergy that had been created by the outgoing FOC would help to prevent fracas, adding that they had aim which was to work together and bring security to the region and to the
nation as a whole.

The AOC said he was very sure that the synergy could be sustained because various agencies were represented.

The highpoint of the event was the giving of gifts to the winners and other participants of the competition.

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