AFCON 2023: Super Eagles Batter Indomitable Lions To Reach Quarter-Finals

0
128

An audacious Nigeria side marched sure-footedly into the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals after a needless-to-get-into-fifth-gear performance that eliminated Cameroon from the continent’s flagship football championship on Saturday.

The Super Eagles, who took seven out of the maximum nine points from their group phase matches, stepped onto the relatively-familiar turf of the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny with assurance, and thought they had taken the lead when Semi Ajayi swept the ball home from a goalmouth melee. Moroccan referee Redouane Jiyed gave the goal, but was summoned by the Video Assistant Referee to watch the action again and afterwards ruled out the strike.

Nigeria’s twin-terror of Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman did not relent, and in the 35th minute, Africa Player of the Year Osimhen picked the pocket of a dithering defender Oumar Gonzalez and threaded to Lookman, who shot past Fabrice Ondoa from close range.

After the recess, Nigeria continued where they had left off in the first period, and Lookman blasted over the sticks from a 22-yard free-kick. Five minutes later Lookman freed Osimhen but got too much purchase on the ball and Ondoa cleared.

Cameroon called goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali to duty in the 71st minute with a fierce free-kick, but the goaltender punched clear. Nwabali was injured in another goalmouth melee and had to be substituted by Francis Uzoho.

Five minutes from the end, a one-two of Osimhen and Lookman from the left saw the ball roll to Olaoluwa Aina in the box, but his effort was too weak and Ondoa blocked with his leg.

On the dot of 90 minutes, Calvin Bassey and Lookman combined from the left, and with the Cameroonian defence flummoxed, Lookman placed the ball to the far left of Ondoa for his, and Nigeria’s, second goal of the night as the crowd went into delirium.

“It was a solid performance and we are proud of the team. They did a great job tonight and we look forward to the quarter-finals with high expectations,” President of NFF, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau said at the final whistle.

The three-time champions, who also knocked out Cameroon from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in the Round of 16, will now confront Angola’s Palancas Negras (victors of Namibia) in the quarter-finals on Friday. Venue is the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here