- Nigeria’s return to summit of African football now certain with defeat of Libya
Super Eagles moved to the top of Group E of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers last night after defeating Libya 3-2 in Sfax, Tunisia.
Changchun Yatai forward in the Chinese Super League, Odion Jude Ighalo scored a brace with stand-in Captain, Ahmed Musa, providing the other goal to shoot Nigeria close to qualifying for the AFCON 2019 to be hosted by Cameroon.
Nigeria is now leading the group on nine points from four matches while former leader South Africa held to a draw by Seychelles is second on eight points. Libya with four points is third with the Indian Island nation in the rear on one point. Eagles next opponent in the series are the Bafana Bafana on November 16 in Johannesburg.
With five goals from two matches against Libya, Ighalo has redeemed his image in the estimation of Nigerian football fans who criticized his poor form at the World Cup in Russia last July
The former Watford forward fired Nigeria in front in the 14th minute, with a sublime pass from Ahmed Musa.
Musa who now plys his trade in Saudi Arabia doubled the lead in the 17th minute, when he was set up by the same Ighalo and he had to do a little more to go through the Libyan defence before he got his goal.
However, the Libyans who didn’t want to go down without a fight pulled back a goal in the 35th minute when Leon Balogun failed to cut off the danger and Mohamed Zeibiaa profited by heading the ball beyond the reach of Francis Uzoho.
Ahmed Ben Ali who all through the game was a problem to the Nigerian backline drew Libya level late in the second half.
The Mediterranean Knights came out firing in all cylinders looking for the winner to restore their hope of making it to AFCON 2019 in Cameroon.
Ighalo however did not allow that to happen as he restored Nigeria’s lead in the 81st minute and took the game beyond the reach of the hosts. He has now scored six goals to lead the goals charts in the AFCON qualifiers.
Eagles starting XI (4-2-3-1): Francis Uzoho – Jamilu Collins, Ola Aina, Leon Balogun, William Ekong – Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo – Ahmed Musa (captain), Alex Iwobi, Samuel Kalu – Odion Ighalo
GROUP E STANDING
P W D L GD PTS
Nigeria 4 3 – 1 6 9
S’Africa 4 2 2 – 8 8
Libya 4 1 2 1 -1 4
Seychelles 4 0 1 3 -3 1