Super Eagles Beat Benin To Qualify For CHAN 2018
Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa came big on Saturday as the home-based Super Eagles beat Benin 2-0 at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, to book a place at next year’s African Nations Championship (Chan 2018) with a 2-1 aggregate win.
The Eagles were undone by a late penalty in the first leg, and all hope seemed lost when they conceded another after going 2-0 up through goals from Kano pillars midfielder Rabiu Ali and Lobi Stars striker Kingsley Eduwo.
But lightning wasn’t about to strike twice as goalkeeper Ezenwa rose to the occasion and denied Benin captain, Mama Seibou, from the spot.
Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf rang the changes from the side that underwhelmed in the first leg, with Stephen Eze, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu, Stephen Odey and Eduwo coming into the starting XI.
The changes proved inspiring as Nigeria dominated proceedings from kickoff in the sunny northwestern town, Eduwo, with his size and pace, troubling the Squirrels all day.
The Lobi striker blasted a shot wide after being played through on goal, while NPFL top scorer Odey, Ali and Eduwo all missed chances in the opening stages.
But home favourite Ali atoned for his earlier miss by slotting in from range after a beautiful interchange of passes from the Eagles.
The Eagles doubled their advantage two minutes after the break with a header from Eduwo off a cross from Rangers’ Osas Okoro, sending the stadium into raptures.
A handball in the area from Stephen Eze appeared to give the visitors a lifeline after 65 minutes, but Ezenwa was equal to the challenge as he judged right to save from Seibou.
Despite a late charge for the crucial away goal from Benin in the dying stages, the Eagles held firm to book a spot for Kenya 2018.
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