By James Agberebi: Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) after coming from a goal down to beat already eliminated Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in Group C on Tuesday.
The last time Nigeria qualified for the quarter-finals was at their debut in the 2014 edition in South Africa.
Goals from Anthony Okpotu, Dayo Ojo and a penalty from Rabiu Ali saw Nigeria finish as Group C winners on seven points.
In the group other game also on Tuesday night, Libya pipped Rwanda 1-0 to finish second on six points.
Nigeria will now meet the runners-up in Group D in the quarter-finals on Sunday, 28 January.
Stephen Eze had Nigeria’s first attempt on goal in the ninth minute but saw his header from a corner go wide.
Nigeria continued to boss the game but were lacking the cutting edge in the final third.
But with five minutes remaining in the first half, Equatorial Guinea took a shock lead through Nsi Eyama who headed past Ikechukwu Ezenwa from a corner as the Nigerian defenders were caught ball watching.
In the 43rd minute, Nigeria should have equalised but Sunday Faleye fired his effort off target with the only keeper to beat.
Seven minutes into the second half, Nigeria went close to drawing level, this time through Emeka Ogbugh who failed to take advantage of a loose ball inside Equatorial Guinea’s box.
Nigeria were back on level terms in the 59th minute thanks to Okpotu off a superb diving header from an excellent Osas Okoro cross from the right.
In the 62nd minute, Nigeria had their first change with Rabiu Ali replacing Ifeanyi Ifeanyi.
Nigeria went 2-1 up on 69 minutes thanks to Ojo who smashed in a shot from about 25 yards which curled past the opponents keeper Pascual Elibiyo.
On 79 minutes, Okpotu attempted a bicycle kick but Equatorial Guinea keeper made a good save.
And in the 83rd minute substitute Ali made it 3-1 to Nigeria from the penalty spot after Okpotu was bundled down inside the box.