Cote d'Ivoire 2-0 Nigeria: Elephants give Eagles a mighty scare
The Eagles scrapped through to South Africa though they went down 2-0 to the Elephants in Abidjan
By Babajide Alaka
The home-based Eagles were down by two goals in the first 24 minutes as the Elephants employed an early lateral pressing on the midfield and defence.
The first goal was scored in the fourth minute when a poor headed back-pass from Azubuike Egwuekwe fell short and Kevin Koelly pounced. The Eagles became very jittery and another defensive mistake by Rabiu Ali led to a penalty kick for the Ivoriens. The kick was coolly converted by Koelly for his second goal.
The Eagles needed a time-out and weathered the storm till the end of the half though they actually got stronger as the game wore on.
Mba made a one on one save from Zougoula as the second half began which then saw a more composed Eagles team as they managed to fend off the Elephants by massing ranks in the midfield. Gomo Onduku was substituted in the 53rd by Flying Eagles striker, Abdullahi Gero, who immediately almost assisted Sunday Mba to score.
Experienced Chibuzor Okonkwo came on for Olufemi Oladapo in the 70th minute to add more know-how to the midfield and then Solomon Kwambe, who had endured a torrid afternoon, was replaced by Kunle Odunlami in the 80th minute.
As the game wore on, the Elephants became more desperate and they attempted to con a penalty from the referee in the 87th minute when Zougoula fell under a innocuous challenge from Godfrey Oboabona.
Three minutes were added on but the Eagles held on to secure a place in January’s tournament that will hold in South Africa.
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