NIGERIA’S Super Eagles have qualified for the quarter final of the ongoing African Cup of Nations after beating Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions 3-2 in a topsy turvey second round match at the Alexandria Stadium.
Thanks to two goals from Odion Ighalo and a winner from Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, the Eagles managed to edge out Cameroon despite not being at their very best. A bit edgy at the back, the Eagles conceded two needless goals just before half time in a three minute spell when the defenders went to sleep but they came back at the restart to win the game.
Nigeria was the brighter of the two sides as the game kicked off, with Ighalo proving a hand full for the Cameroonian defence and the Eagles deservedly took the lead in the 19th minute. A corner was played back onto the area by defender Kenneth Omeruo and Ighalo’s flick took a deflection before nestling in the far corner of the Cameroonian net.
After taking the lead, the Eagles were in control of the game but their backline of Chigozie Awaziem, Omeruo, William Ekong and Ola Aina were very jittery. Innocuous long balls caused panic in the Nigerian defence, needing last ditch tackles and desperate clearances to prevent a goal at a time when the Eagles were in full control of the game.
It was thus no surprise when Cameroon, coached by Dutch legends Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kliuvert equalised in the 41st minute through Stéphane Bahoken. he easily side footed the ball past Daniel Akpeyi in Nigeria’s goal after Christian Bassogog supplied him with a cross from the right.
Three minutes later Cameroon were in front as Clinton N’Jie right footed home the ball after receiving a headed pass from Stéphane Bahoken. For both goals, the fullbacks Awaziem and Aina were caught napping, allowing their men to ghost past them with relative ease and supply dangerous palls into the box.
In the last minute of the first half, Nigeria had a blatant penalty claim turned down after Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui kneed Ighalo in the back but the referee chose to end the half. Despite appeals from the Eagles, Botswanan referee Joshua Bondo, turned aware their pleas and pointed to the centre circle.
At the start of the second half, the Eagles came out the brighter side and it was no surprise when their pressure eventually paid off in the 63rd minute when Musa chested a cross down for Ighalo to clot home. Three minutes later, Iwobi allowed a pass from Ighalo to go across his body before calmly slotting the ball past Andre Onana in goal for Cameroon.
After Nigeria took the lead, Cameroon tried to push for a goal but as they did so were vulnerable at the back to the counter-attack. Thanks to the heroics of Onana, Ighalo was twice prevented from scoring a hat trick as his sharp reflexes enabled him to claw out certain goals after his defence was beaten.
Despite Cameroon piling on the pressure, the Eagles held out firm until the final whistle. With this victory, they will now face the winners of the Egypt/South Africa game in the quarter finals.