Nigeria 4-2 Mozambique: Rabiu Ali's brace inspires Eagles victory
The Super Eagles secured their first win in the African Nations Championship after beating their southern Africans opponents in a six-goal thriller
By Shina Oludare
Nigeria continued their quest for a debut CHAN trophy with a 4-2 defeat of Mozambique at the Cape Town Stadium in South Africa on Wednesday night.
A brace from Rabiu Ali and one goal each from Ifeanyi Ede and substitute Barnabas Imenger were all Stephen Keshi's men needed to brush aside Joao Chisano’s team on a night of exciting football artistry.
The much talked about game between the two debutants kicked off on a bright note as both sides who were still fresh from their opening defeats contested for every ball to gain possession.
However, it was the Mozambicans that got the curtain raiser through captain Dário Khan in the 10th minute. Khan shot a free kick from almost half way that sailed above and beyond Chigozie Agbim who was still arranging his wall.
Nigeria reacted immediately by getting the equaliser in the 11th minute through Ede who shot past Soarito off a header from Azubuike Egwuekwe. This motivated the Super Eagles and they got their second of the night two minutes later through Ali. He beat the opponent’s goalkeeper from a long range that drew a big applause from the fans.
While it looked like Keshi’s men were in cruise control, they soon let defensive lapses give the Mozambicans a well deserved equaliser in the 20th minute through Alberto Diogo. The Mambas striker put the ball into an empty net as Agbim failed to clear Maninho's lay off.
The Eagles regrouped but all efforts to get into the lead proved futile as Chisano’s men looked resolute in defence and well coordinated in the midfield. At halftime, the game ended two goals apiece.
On resumption of the second half, Nigeria were in firm control as they looked better organised and confident on the ball and in the 47th minute man of the match Ejike Uzoenyi could have given his side the lead but his shot from just outside the box could not threaten goalkeeper Soares.
Ali put Nigeria in the lead five minutes later from the penalty spot as Uzoenyi's shot was adjudged to have struck the arm of a Mambas defender according to referee Bangoura.
While it looked like the Mambas would recover, substitute Imenger, who came on for hardworking striker Gbolahan Salami, sealed the win with the fourth goal for Nigeria with two minutes to regulation time. The super-sub profited from a Solomon Kwambe pass and chipped it over Soares to give the Eagles a two goal cushion.
Nigeria will now face hosts South Africa in a make or break game on Sunday. Bafana Bafana had earlier in the day played out a 1-1 draw against Les Aigles of Mali.
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