Rabiu Ali’s strike sent Nigeria into the final of the Wafu Cup of Nations at the expense of 10-man Benin Republic, as Salisu Yusuf’s men ran out 1-0 winners in Cape Coast.
Much has been made of Nigeria’s reliance on Anthony Okpotu and Peter Eneji, but they proved they are no two-man team with an impressive display on Thursday.
The Super Eagles came in the game following their 2-0 victory over Ghana in their last group game, and started on the front foot and were rewarded when Ali put them in front with a fine finish on 11 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Okpotu was involved, carrying the ball forward from the middle of the park and passed invitingly for the Kano Pillars man to dispatch a fine effort into net.
Oumar Tchomogo’s men were dealt a massive blow in the 33rd minute for a second caution and that stalled their efforts to break down the Super Eagles.
Osas Okoro was a real handful for Benin’s defence and almost doubled his side's lead with a stunning solo strike early in the second half.
He embarked on a bursting run, in which he skipped past two players too easily before unleashing a lethal shot that missed the goalpost.
Benin threw men forward in an attempt to force extra time and captain Salomon Junior’s header was unable to beat Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Rodrigue Fassinou sliced a late volley over the bar from the edge of the box, leaving Nigeria to hold on to seal their place in the final, where they will face the winner of the last four clash between Ghana and Niger Republic.
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