Bartholomew Ibenegbu (R) playing for the SuperSand Eagles
The Beach Soccer National Team, otherwise known as Supersand Eagles, stormed into the semi finals of the on-going Samsung Intercontinental Cup Invitational Tournament on Thursday with a 6-5 defeat of Japan.
The COPA Lagos kings, who reached the quarter finals at last year’s FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Ravenna, Italy had on Wednesday prevailed 7-6 over Switzerland to brighten their chances of a place in the last four, having lost 3-6 to Brazil in their opening game on Tuesday.
On Thursday, veteran Bartholomew Ibenegbu scored four goals to steer the African vice champions past the Japanese in Dubai. The other two goals came from Abu Azeez. But even after the victory, the Nigerians had to wait for the last match of Group B, between Brazil and Switzerland, to be confirmed as semi finalists.
In the event, four-time world champions Brazil narrowly edged the Swiss 4-3 to finish at the top of the group.
Finishing top of the pool enabled the South Americans to avoid reigning world champions Russia in the last four. The Nigeria team, which triumphed at the four-nation COPA Lagos Invitational in December 2011, and battled Brazil to extra time in the World Cup quarter finals in Italy three months earlier, now face the world champions in the semi finals.
Brazil will take on host United Arab Emirates in the other semi final.
The matches come up on Friday.
SEMI FINAL PAIRINGS
RUSSIA v NIGERIA
BRAZIL v UAE