Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat over the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia in the first leg of the playoff for a ticket to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, has put it at a vantage position
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE Super Eagles of Nigeria are on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The senior national male team on Sunday, October 13, trounced the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia 2-1 at the Addis Ababa national stadium. Emmanuel Emenike, the Super Eagles striker, scored the two goals to keep Nigeria’s chance bright.
Emenike, who made it possible for Nigeria to win the African Cup of Nations in South Africa in February, brought his scoring prowess to bear when he fired in a long range shot to cancel the lead established by the Ethiopians. He collected a pass from the middle and meandered his way through a forest of Ethiopian legs before unleashing a ferocious shot that beat the goalkeeper flat.
Ethiopia’s first real chance of scoring came on the 25th minute when Salahdin Said skipped past two defenders before apparently prodding his shot over the line before Godfrey Oboabona clawed the ball away, but the referee adjudged the defender to have prevented the goal, controversially ruling out the strike and leaving the score still goalless. But Behailu Assefa opened the scoring for the Walya Antelopes in the 56th minute and the goal was greeted by rapturous celebration. Vincent Enyeama was to blame as he was ball-watching, only to react too late when he caught the ball inside the net.
As expected, Ethiopians excelled in their agile passes thereby running rings around the Nigerian players, who could not find their bearing in the first 45 minutes. Like one Nigerian said, if passes were counted as goals, perhaps, Ethiopia could have joined the powerhouses of World football as they tickled souls with their tailor-measured passes.
The first half was a torture for Nigerians. There was nothing that the Eagles did right. Some analysts blamed it on the altitude, the weather, pressure and wind that worked against Nigeria. Ironically, it was the Ethiopians players that went on water break. Whatever it was, the Ethiopians used the first half to earn respect and prove to Nigerians that they did not get to playoff stage by fluke. The Ethiopians played as a team. They understood each other perfectly and strung passes that made Nigerian defence look amateurish.
In fairness to the Ethiopians, they made the African champions look ordinary in the first 45 minutes. The Eagles three-man midfield of Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Nnamdi Oduamadi was largely ineffective, allowing the Ethiopians, powered by Menyahel Teshome, to dictate the pace of the game. But for the inspired substitutions of Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, who had to take off Moses and Oduamadi for Brown Ideye and Nosa Igiebor, the outcome could have been different. The changes stabilised the Eagles midfield, allowing Emenike, to have a free hand to do the damage in the attack. Ahmed Musa was also on point on the right side of the attack, disturbing the Ethiopian left-fullback.
Nigerians from all works of life have congratulated the Super Eagles for the win over Ethiopia. Keshi said after the match that the Ethiopians would be beaten again in the second leg holding on November 16 in Calabar. He said he was relieved that his team achieved his target in Addis Ababa. “It was a good thing that we got the victory, which we so much wanted in Addis Ababa. The boys played well and I thank God that their labour did not go in vain. It was a sweet victory for us and I thank the team for making this dream a reality”, Keshi said.
According to Keshi, his efforts would henceforth be on how to ensure that the Eagles complete the job of beating Ethiopia in the reverse fixture on November 16, and consequently book a ticket to Brazil 2014. “Now that we have beaten them in their backyard, we have to ensure that we make it a double victory by defeating them in Calabar. With the way we are progressing, I believe that Ethiopia will again fall and our qualification to the World Cup would be guaranteed.”
Clemence Westerhof, former Super Eagles coach, said the victory over Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, made his football weekend complete. “I’m very pleased with the result. Just yesterday (Saturday), my own country, Holland, defeated Hungary 8-1 in a similar world cup qualifier. I think the Eagles’ result, together with my country’s win, has made my weekend a lot more complete now. It will be nice for the two nations to go to the Brazil World Cup next year. Keshi has done well so far as the Super Eagles manager and I wish him all the best. I pray he takes the Nigeria team to the world Cup in Brazil next year,” Westerhof said.
Globacom, sponsor of the Nigerian national teams, has congratulated the Super Eagles for recording an important away win against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia. Globacom, in a press statement released in Lagos, eulogised the Super Eagles for recording the crucial away win in Addis Ababa which gave the team a brighter chance of qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Brazil.
“Playing under a high altitude, the Super Eagles displayed an unlimited attitude and triumphed over the Walya Antelopes right on their home turf. By this victory, the Super Eagles have again proved that no challenge is too complex for Nigeria to surmount. We urge the team to sustain the momentum next month when it takes on Ethiopia in Calabar so as to seal the ticket to represent Africa at the mundial. The match was tough and the weather was inclement. We commend the Super Eagles and the coaching crew for their hard work, concentration and never-say-die spirit which earned them the away victory,” Glo said in the statement.
Globacom also said that the victory had re-affirmed the Super Eagles’ rating as African Champions, adding that they should be focused as they prepare for the second leg on November 16. Globacom enjoined Nigerians not to relent in giving the much needed support to the Super Eagles as they prepare for the last 90 minutes before Brazil 2014.