- To play hosts Ghana in final on Sunday
Kano Pillars forward, Rabiu Ali, scored the lone goal yesterday as the home-based Super Eagles defeated Benin Republic 1-0 to qualify for the final of the ongoing WAFU Cup of Nations in Cape Coast, Ghana. Eagles are to play Ghana that defeated Niger Republic 2-0 in Sunday’s final.
It was the second time in barely one month that the home-based Eagles sent the Squirrels of Benin away from a major tournament. The first was the aggregate 2-1 defeat they suffered from the Nigerians to fail to qualify for the next edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
It took the Salisu Yusuf tutored Eagles just 11 minutes to register the lone goal.
The experienced Kano Pillars midfielder drilled home a through pass from Anthony Okpotu to put Nigeria ahead in the match the Beninois had looked forward to avenging the 2-0 defeat they suffered in Kano during the CHAN qualifier. Ali had similarly scored one of the goals against the Squirrels in the Sai Masu Gida home ground.
Deep into the first half, the ambitious Squirrels who enjoyed the advantage of having the Ghanaian fans behind them, were reduced to 10 men as defender Koukpo Marcellin was sent off in the 33rd minutes for a second booking.
Attempts by Benin to level scores failed to materialise as Eagles dominated the second half with Okpotu, Afeez Aremu and Samuel Matthias all coming close to increasing the tally for Nigeria.
Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa has kept clean sheets in all four games he’s been in between the post in this competition. Peter Eneji is the joint top-scorer in this competition with two goals.
The final match is slated for Sunday, and the CHAN Eagles are heading into the game as firm favourite to lift the trophy as they are yet to concede a goal in the four games they have played in the run up to the final.
Super Eagles vs Benin (4-4-2): Ikechukwu Ezenwa – Osas Okoro, Chima Akas, Olamilekan Adeleye, Emmanuel Ariwachuwu – Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Afeez Aremu, Rabiu Ali (Gabriel Okechukwu 85), Peter Eneji – Friday Ubong (Samuel Matthias 68), Anthony Okpotu