Nigeria defeated Madagascar 2-0 in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match on Sunday at the Calabar Stadium.
The widely criticised Super Eagles started Sunday’s Group B encounter against the Barea with great determination. Nigeria's midfielders were lively in the early going as they looked to provide service to the strikers up front. But the visitors did enough to survive the opening onslaught.
But it was only a matter of time before the Eagles took the lead and in the 19th minute, Obafemi Martins ran at the visiting defence and beat his marker, but instead of playing the ball into a crowded penalty area, he placed his shot outside of the goalkeeper's outstretched arms. The jam-packed Calabar Stadium soon vibrated in celebrations.
By the 35th minute, the game was mostly being played in the midfield as a number of Nigeria’s moves and combinations orchestrated by Chelsea’s Mikel Obi and Peter Odemwingie.
With the Eagles in firm control of the situation, but still unable to get a desired opening, Martins decided to take matters into his own hands in the 44th minute. The former Inter man outpaced his marker from the left flank and played in a short pass towards 24-year-old Esperance Tunis striker Michael Eneramo, who easily lobbed the ball into the back net to give the Super Eagle a two-goal cushion going into the half-time interval.
Martins' header early in second half found the back of the net but was disallowed the referee, who judged the Rubin Kazan forward to have fouled a Madagascar player before the move.
Nigeria took their foot off the gas after that with the Barea mounting determined attacks to menace Nigerian ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama. Ahmed Musa, a 17-year–old local talent came in for injured Mikel Obi and was extremely impressive. His tackles pushed back the clearly advancing visitors.
The Nigerians were comfortable for the remainder of the half and will be pleased with the 2-0 win.