Nigeria’s Super Eagles yesterday at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba defeated Seychelles 3-1 to finish top of Group E in their final AFCON 2019 qualifiers. The Gavin Jeanne-led side proved a lot tougher nut to crack unlike in Mahè and the Super Eagles had to work their socks off particularly in the first period.
Stoke City man Oghenekaro Etebo saw two brilliant shots thwarted, once curling just over the bar before seeing the opposing goalkeeper get a fingertip to another of his brilliant effort.
For all their resistance, Seychelles were soon behind 34 minutes in after Karle Hall fouled Wilfred Ndidi from behind in the box, paving the way for Odion Ighalo to step up and send the goalkeeper the wrong way.
But the spirited visitors rallied to pull themselves back on level terms just before the break, Rody Melanie profiting from a comical error to score after Nigeria failed to properly deal with a floated ball into the area.
Nigeria retook the lead just after half time when Jamilu Collins sent in a brilliant ball for Henry Onyekuru to nip in behind the defenders and head home with the slightest of touches.
And Simon Moses, making his first competitive appearance since his injury last year came off the bench to add the icing on the cake with a brilliant goal and set up the team in good mood ahead of the date with Egypt.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr has dismissed Morocco’s Coach, Herve Renard’s claim that Nigeria are one of the favourite teams to lift the 2019 AFCON title.
In an interview with CAF, Renard had claimed hosts Egypt- with Africa Player of the Year Mohamed Salah and the home crowd – are leading favourite, with defending champions Cameroon, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria also in the running for glory at the biennial event.
The Frenchman, a two-time winner with Zambia (2012) and Cote d’Ivoire (2015), currently coaches the highest ranked team on the continent, Morocco but stated that he would rather not boast of their chances.
Rohr, however, labelled him a ‘diplomat’ and would rather not be drawn into analysing his ‘young’ team’s prospects.
“I know my friend Herve Renard is a diplomat. His team are favorite to win the tournament because they are number one in Africa so he’s the natural favorite, but he tries to put other countries ahead. This is a tactic already so I say, Morocco is number 1 in Africa and they are favorites,” Rohr told media.
“Egypt with one of the biggest players in the world are favourites as well. They are also playing at home. Senegal and Tunisia and second and third. We (Nigeria) are No.4 and we have a chance though, but please let them speak while we stay humble.
“To declare that we will win the AFCON is stupid. We have to work, we have young players.”