Nigeria’s Supersand Eagles fought bravely, despite being a man down for all of the last two periods and overtime, to edge Cote d’Ivoire 7-6 in Victoria on Thursday and finish comfortably at the top of Group A of the 2015 African Beach Soccer Championship.
A semi-final ticket was already on hand before the match, but the 2011 FIFA World Cup quarter-finalists put their best legs out and aimed for outright victory from the first blast of the referee’s whistle.
However, Cote d’Ivoire scored first before the Eagles leveled, and then the game became a see-saw of sorts after Nigerian player Igudia Godspower was shown the red card late in the first period.
The Ivorians tried to capitalize on the one -man advantage but the Eagles dug their feet into the sands to repel what could have been a defeat and perhaps second place in the group.
Captain Isiaka Olawale led the charges well on the beach and Emeka Ogbonna could not be stopped, and Abu Azeez was the song on everyone’s lips in what the commentator called ‘Match of the Tournament’.
Olawale and Ogbonna earned a brace each, with a goal each from Azeez, Bartholomew Ibenegbu and Adams Taiwo. Ogbonna, who now has six goals, scored the overtime goal that gave Nigeria victory after full time ended 6-6.
Nigeria will now play the second –placed team in Group B in Saturday’s semi finals.