Super Eagles players run to mob Victor Moses after he tucked away his penalty against Ethiopia
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Chelsea star, Victor Moses was instrumental to Nigeria’s two nil victory over Ethiopia Tuesday to qualify for the quarter final match of the on-going 29th Africa Cup of Nations here in Rustenburg, South Africa.
Twice, goal-bound Moses was viciously hacked down in the box for the Super Eagles to earn deserved penalty kicks that ensured that cup holders, Zambia who played a goalless draw with Burkina Faso in the other game of the Group C at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, were eliminated.
It took 80 minutes of the tension soaked encounter before respite came the way of Nigerians who were already on the edge as the scoreless result was a clear signal of elimination of the Super Eagles from the contest.
But Moses, who until Tuesday has not been able to reproduce his Chelsea form for Nigeria stole the show, earning two spot kicks and scoring both to set up a quarter final pairing with the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday.
The first of the infringement on Moses happened in the 79th minute as he collected a pass from the left flank. He waltzed into the box and headed for a one-on-one with Basa Sisay Bancha in goal for the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia. One of the defenders tripped the Chelsea forward for Moroccan centre referee, Al Ahrach Bouchaib to point to the centre of the box for a penalty kick. Moses sent the ball to the wrong side of the keeper for the first goal on the 80th minute.
On the dot of 90 minutes, rampaging Moses was again tripped, this time, by the goalkeeper. Bancha was given a second yellow card and a second penalty awarded to Nigeria to seal Eagles qualification for the quarter final stage of the 29th edition they played the first two games with shared honours.
Speaking at the post match conference Tuesday night, Coach Stephen Keshi whose job has been on the line following the two draw results said that he needed the victory for Nigerians who have prayed and stayed with the team despite the sluggish start to the campaign.
“The victory is for all Nigerians who have stayed and prayed for us to win a game here. I know the quarter final game on Sunday is going to be a different ball game, we don’t want to talk about that now,” observed the coach who two players, John Mikel Obi and Ambrose Efe were selected as Fair Play award and Most Valuable Player award winners.
Keshi admitted that the Ethiopians were a difficult team to play, as they refused to come out from their half of the field.
“They choked the middle and made every effort to ensure that one or two players were always on any Nigerian player with the ball. They relied on counter-attack but were read the game right and ensure that we put pressure on them that resulted in the two penalty award,” said the Super Eagles gaffer who savoured the victory long into the night with his players.
For the victory and qualification to the quarter final, each Super Eagles player is to pocket $30,000 for their efforts