Victor Moses scored both goals for the Eagles
By Tunde Sulaiman
The individual brilliance of Victor Moses ensured that the Super Eagles’ interest in the African Cup of Nations continued Tuesday night as his two well struck penalties was just enough to beat Ethiopia 2-0.
However, while millions of Nigerian football fans were mightily relieved to see the Eagles progress, the same feeling was not shared by Zambian fans as the defending champions crashed out after playing a goalless draw with Burkina Faso, who incidentally finished top of Group C.
Despite all the promises made ahead of the match by Coach Stephen Keshi that Nigerians would see a different team in action, it was the same old story as the team huffed and puffed throughout the game.
With Nigeria labouring to beat the lowest ranked team in the tournament and the clock fast ticking down, Chelsea man, Moses, 22, came to their rescue and opened the scoring from the spot after he was fouled by defender Alula Girma with 10 minutes to go.
The winger earned the second penalty when he was brought down by goalkeeper Sasay Bancha, who was sent off.
If Moses had not scored they would have lost a quarter-final spot to Zambia due to a worse disciplinary record.
A further blight on the performance of the Eagles was the failure of the bench to urge their players to score more goals, especially with the Walyas Antelopes having an outfield player in goal after their keeper had been sent off.
Had the Eagles scored more goals then they would have topped the group courtesy of a better goals difference and avoided meeting the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Sunday’s quarter-finals.
Instead Keshi opted to sit on his two goals by taking off John Obi Mikel and bringing on a defender, Joseph Yobo with some minutes left to play.
On the balance of play so far only a miracle or a performance of immense proportions will see the Eagles fly past their West African rivals on Sunday.