2019 AFCON Race: Eagles grab three points in Seychelles

Nigeria’s Super Eagles got
their first points of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying race
when beating the Pirates of Seychelles 3-0 in Mahé Island on
Saturday.
The Eagles dominated and
should have won by a wider margin had Odion Ighalo and Kelechi
Iheanacho converted begging chances.
Midfielder Wilfred Ndidi
was the first to confirm the Eagles were in for serious business when
his 9th minute shot was headed out for a corner, and two minutes
later, debutant Samuel Kalu waltzed his way past the home defence
only to be thwarted.
Ogenyi Onazi also saw a
shot fly over the bar before Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s star of the FIFA
World Cup finals in Russia and captain for the day, let fly a rocket
that shook the crossbar before hitting the Seychelles goalkeeper’s
back to roll into the net in the 15th minute. The shot came off
Musa’s weaker left foot.
Defender Chidozie Awaziem
was the unlikely source of the second goal, as he reacted faster than
the home defence to blast home after a free –kick by Kelechi
Iheanacho saw the ball hit the upright and bounce across the face of
goal. Two minutes later, with only the goalkeeper to beat, Ighalo
lifted the ball too high for what should have been Nigeria’s third.
The Pirates started the
second half with greater enthusiasm but Leon Balogun marshaled a
rearguard that was in no mood to concede. In the 55th minute, the
ever –lively Musa lifted the ball and shot again with his weaker
left, but the goalkeeper was alert to block for a corner.
Two minutes later, France
–based Kalu, who did his Nigerian prospects no harm with a
magnificent debut, was upended in the vital area as he went on
another breezy run. Ighalo made no mistake from the spot, for
Nigeria’s third.
Ighalo came close five
minutes later but was foiled from doing the simple tap –in from
Kalu’s cut –back. Another brilliant Ahmed Musa move in the 72nd
minute ended with him calling out the Pirates’ goalie again, but he
missed narrowly. And in the 90th minute, Henry Onyekuru’s header,
off a pull out by Semi Ajayi – who also had an impressive debut –
went narrowly wide.
Victory gave the Super
Eagles three points and wiped out the goal deficit from the loss to
South Africa on Matchday 1 (with one goal to spare), and victory over
Libya in Kaduna on 13th October would brighten Nigeria’s chances
for a place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

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