S/EAGLES WHIP RWANDA
Posted: Jun 16, 2012
Ike Uche, Ahmed Musa On Target
Two goals in each half – the first by usual suspect Ikechukwu Uche – steered Nigeria into the final round of the qualification series for next year’s African Cup of Nations finals as Rwanda left Calabar empty-handed.
The VIP Box was sumptuous with Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke and his adorable wife, Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Traditional Ruler Dr. Ika Ikla Qua, Honourable Minister/Chairman of National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Inspector –General of Police Alhaji M. D. Abubakar, Chairman of House of Reps’ Committee on Sports, Honourable Godfrey Gaiya and NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari among eminent personalities.
Yet, a tense atmosphere prevailed prior to the match with realization by all that failure to defeat the Rwandans would mean Nigeria failing to qualify for a second consecutive African Cup of Nations competition.
Pre-match anxiety thickened as a one-minute silence was observed for victims of the Dana Air plane crash which occurred in Lagos on Sunday, June 3 – as the Eagles were playing Namibia in their last home match at the same venue.
Matters were not helped by the fact that the Amavubi won the first corner kick of the match (after eight minutes), but the Nigeria defence cleared.
Two minutes later, the stands were rocking as a corner kick by Ahmed Musa was nodded down by Gabriel Reuben for Uche Kalu, whose first-time shot was charged down by the Rwandan defence, but only as far as the potent Ikechukwu Uche, who steered home from six yards.
Nigeria then fired from all angles with Gabriel Reuben’s effort charged out and the midfielder’s overhead kick palmed away miraculously by Rwandan goal-tender Eric Gasana.
In the 26th minute, it could have been 2-0 but Ahmed Musa’s shot was charged out, and two minutes later, even Ikechukwu Uche could not believe that his vicious shot had been fingered over and out by Gasana.
The second half began with Rwandan kicking off and then making the first change. But it was Nigeria that had joy as nimble-footed Ahmed Musa connected powerfully with his left foot when Uche Kalu chested down a lobbed ball.
With two goals in the bag, the Eagles sought to dominate, but the energetic Gabriel Reuben was overworked in the midfield as Obiora Nwankwo once again failed to click in the vital department.
Raheem Lawal, Victor Moses and Omatsone Aluko came in for Musa, Ejike Uzoenyi and Uche Kalu respectively, but there were to be no more goals – though Rwandans forged an anxious moment when Meddie Kagere’s close-range header rocked Enyeama’s crossbar with nine minutes left.
Midfielder Gabriel Reuben, who scored Nigeria’s goal in the 1-1 draw with Malawi in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Blantyre last weekend, was selected the Most Valuable Player of the match, earning $5,000 presented by TomTom, official candy of the Nigeria National Teams.
At the end, Honourable Minister/Chairman, National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who was attending his first Super Eagles’ match since confirmation in his new post, said: “I never had any anxiety because I knew Super Eagles would win. This is a good one for us.
“Now, we must prepare hard for the final round of qualifiers later in the year, as there are no longer small teams in international football. Everyone saw what Central African Republic did to Egypt right there in Egypt on Friday.”
NFF President Aminu Maigari cut the picture of a happy man. “Yes, I am happy. This is the first time we have scored two goals in a competitive match this year. We did it in style.”
The final round of qualification series for 2013 African Cup of Nations will take place between September and October.
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