By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeriaâ€™s home-based Super Eagles scored two second half goals against host Ghanaâ€™s Black Stars on Monday evening to book their passage to the semi final of the ongoing 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations in Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana.
Lobi Stars of Makurdi forward, Anthony Okpotu, capitalized on flip-flop defending by Ghanaâ€™s central defender, Vincent Adaeh Antigah, to grab the first goal for Eagles in the 53rdÂ minute. The Lobi man fired a thunderous strike under the roof of the Ghanaian net for the opener.
Three minutes later, Peter Eneji, whose brace against Enugu Rangers in the last game of the season penultimate Saturday helped Plateau United win the Nigerian Professional Football League for the first time, added Eagles second goal to take the game beyond the Black Stars.
Maximum changes made by the Ghanaian coach failed to make any difference as the Nigerians who until last night had not won any game in the group stage were not in any doubt of running away with maximum points to grab one of the tickets to the semis.
Earlier in the game, the Black Stars were dealt a blow following the injury that forced out their dependable defender,Â Isaac Twum in the third minute. Twum was replaced by Ahmed Adams. Hard tackle from Kano Pillarsâ€™ Rabiu Ali sent TwumÂ to the sideline.
In the second half,Â another Ghanaian,Â Gideon Waja, also limped out to be replaced in the 60thÂ .
The Ghanaians who had already qualified for the semi final stage of the competition following wins over the Sily Nationals of Guinea and the Eagles of Mali in the first and second group matches respectively, appeared shocked by the quality the home-based Super Eagles brought to the game that was going to determine their fate.
With Nigeria yet to record a win in the group after recording stalemates with both Mali and Guinea, Coach Salisu Yusuf knew that anything short of victory was going to put a question mark on his capacity to lead the team to the next African Nations Championship (CHAN) which the team had qualifies for next year.
It was little surprising that the changes he made to the squad brought about the quality that lifted Nigeria above the Black stars who are their perennial rivals.
Nigeria as runners up on five points will now battle the winners of Group B for a place in the championship game of the sub-regional tournament.
Guinea played out a 1-1 draw with Mali after they had led 1-0 by the interval. Mali finished third on two points, while Guinea were bottom also on two points but with an inferior goals difference.
Ghana:Â Joseph Addo 1, Amos Frimpong 0, Annan Felix 16, Kwadwo Stephen 15, Emmanuel Ampiah 4, Vincent Adaeh Antigah 5, Gideon Waja 8, Isaac Twumasi 7, Cobbinah Winful Essuah 10, Samuel Sarfo 12, Addoquye Emmenuel Lomotey 18
Nigeria:Â Ikechukwu Ezenwa 1, Afeez Aremu 9, Akas Chima 5, Osas Okoro 6, Okpotu Tony 18, Rabiu Ali 11, Stephen Eze 3,Â Â Aniyikaye Adeleye Olamilekan 0, Friday Ubong 17, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi 10, Peter Eneji 16