Super Eagles’ Afeez Azeez (right) challenging two Malians during their WAFU Cup Group A game at the Cape Coast Stadium, Ghana… yesterday. PHOTO: GHANASOCCERNET.COM
Nobody gave Nigeria any chance of survival after two tame draws had put them at the precipice. But the Super Eagles yesterday stunned the Black Stars of Ghana with two quick goals in the early minutes of the second half of the WAFU Cup last group game held at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium.
Tony Okpotu and Peter Eneji were the heroes as the Salisu Yusuf led team put up a gallant fight to leave the hosts gasping for breadth.
Nigeria showed their intention early in the game when they took the attack to the hosts, but the Ghanaian defence, marshaled by Emmanuel Ampiah, Amos Frimpong, Sarfo and Atinga ensured that goalkeeper Joseph Addo was not troubled too much by the ambitious Nigerians.
Before the game, Nigeria knew that they needed to win the game to be sure of making it to the semifinals and when the news came that Mali were leading Guinea 1-0 in the other game of Group A being played simultaneously, it became even clearer to the Eagles that they had to do everything possible to subdue the Black Stars.
Ghana had another script though, as they ensured that the Eagles were limited to potshots from afar in the first half.
However, the complexion of the match changed in the early minutes of the second half with Okpotu and Eneji scoring two quick goals in the 53rd and 56th minutes to steady the Eagles’ flight to the semifinals.
Nigeria took the lead when Okpotu showed great strength to hold his marker off to get on the end of a through ball and hit the top of the roof with a thunderous shot.
Three minutes later it was 2-0 through another thunderous 20-yard strike from Eneji.
With Mali and Guinea ending the other Group A game 1-1 at the Nduom Sports Stadium, it leaves Ghana top of the standings with six points, followed by Nigeria with five points.
Guinea and Mali ended with two points apiece in third and fourth place respectively.