Nigeria reach last eight

2010-01-20 21:04
Osaze Odemwingie (AFP)

Lubango - Russia-based Osaze Odemwingie scored just before and after half-time as Nigeria beat Mozambique 3-0 on Wednesday to reach the Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals.

The midfielder from Lokomotiv Moscow was given time and space in the final minute of the opening half at Tundavala Stadium in this southern Angola town to rifle a low shot past goalkeeper Joao Rafael at his near post.

And the veteran of four Nations Cup campaigns scored a far simpler goal two minutes into the second half as he tapped in a cross from captain Yakubu Aiyegbeni.

A memorable match for Odemwingie was completed midway through the second half when Everton striker Yakubu was substituted by injury-troubled Obafemi Martins and the matchwinner became skipper of the 'Super Eagles'.

Odenwingie said: "I'm happy for the team. We had a lot of pressure on us, but since the start of the competition we have made daily progress, from the goalkeepers to the strikers."

Under-fire Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu added: "My job is to do a good CAN - I can't avoid the critics. I'm happy that the boys were able to deliver the goods.

"As for our next rivals let me enjoy this victory today before speaking about Cameroon or any other team."

Mozambique coach Maart Nooij commented: "I can't be disappointed, my players gave everything they had to give. We arrived here with our heads held high, and we're leaving with our heads held high."

Victory for Nigeria and an equally predictable 2-0 triumph for defending champions Egypt over Benin in Benguela at the same time brought a predictable climax to Group C of the biennial African football showcase.

Egypt topped the table with nine points after comfortable victories over all three mini-league opponents as they seek a record third consecutive Nations Cup title having won at home in 2006 and in Ghana two years ago.

Nigeria recovered from a 3-1 opening-match loss to Egypt with wins over the minnows to collect six points while Benin and Mozambique brought up the rear with a solitary point each on the final standings.

Who the 'Pharaohs' and the 'Super Eagles' face in January 25 quarter-finals will be decided on Thursday when Gabon, Cameroon, Tunisia and Zambia fight to finish first and second in Group D.

Egypt will face the pool runners-up at Ombaka Stadium in Benguela early next Monday with Nigeria remaining in Lubango to face the Group D winners later and surprise packets Gabon occupy top spot after two rounds.

Nigeria, needing a draw to clinch a last-eight place, looked the more threatening side in the opening half at a sparsely-populated 20,000-seat stadium and Chinedu Obasi missed a 'sitter' midway through.

The Germany-based striker, a last-minute inclusion in the squad, headed at Rafael from a few metres when seemingly certain to break the deadlock in a match that seldom rose above the pedestrian.

Mozambique pushed the ball around impressively and Martinho 'Paito' Mucana stung the hands of Nigeria goalkeeper Victor Enyeama with a long-range effort that brought a good parried save.

Martins completed the scoring five minutes from full-time when he pounced on a rebound to drive the ball low into the far corner after Rafael failed to grasp a close-range Mikel shot.


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