Nigeria back from the dead
Aliyu Ibrahim (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Nigeria came back from a three-goal first half deficit to beat Morocco 4-3
in a thrilling African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-final clash at the
Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening.
The opening 15 minutes saw the north African side the more fluent team in
attack, looking dangerous every time the likes of Iajour Mouhssine and
Abdelkbir El Quadi were on the ball.
Within the very first minute there was a chance for Mouhssine as ran onto a
through ball, his parting shot at the near post forcing Nigeria shot stopper
Chigozie Agbim into a smart stop.
But as the game reached the 20 minute mark, the Super Eagles began to ask
more questions of the Moroccan defence, goalkeeper Nadir Lamyaghri doing well
to steal the ball off the head of Ifeanyi Ede as the west African side looked
to try the more direct, aerial route.
But the Atlas Lions were to take a deserved lead on 33 minutes when Mohsine
Moutaouali ran into space in the box before sending a delightful chip over
Four minutes later and the Moroccans extended their lead to two when Iajour
Mouhssine, who had been troubling the Super Eagles defence all afternoon with
his pace and movement, curled a superb left-footed free kick into goal.
The north African side were hungry for more and with 40 minutes gone it was
3-0 as Moutaouali was set up by Abdelkbir El Quadi before picking out the
bottom corner of the net with an crisp low strike from 18-yards.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi must have had some stern words with his men at
the half time break, because the Super Eagles looked a different side after the
restart, pulling two goals back in 10 second half minutes.
The first was struck by Ugonna Uzochukwu, who latched on to a loose ball
just outside the box, sending a first time half volley past Lamyaghri after 49
Five minutes later and the Nigerians were right back in it when Rabiu Ali
fired home a low shot right into the bottom corner, having been teed up by
The goalmouth action continued unabated as both sides beat the opposition
defence with ease.
Agbim made a breathtaking 62nd minute save to keep out Abdessamad Rafik, who
looked odds on to score with a close range header while at the other end
Abubaker Ibrahim should have done better than to curl a shot from inside the
box over the bar.
The frenetic pace continued right with both sides always looking like
getting another goal, but with Morocco edging through to the full time whistle,
Nigerian midfielder Christianus Ejike picked the ball up in the middle of the
park before unleashing an unstoppable 30-yard rocket of a shot which struck the
underside of the bar before going into the net, sending the match into extra
The action picked up where it left off, with half chances coming on regular
basis before Alio wasted a fantastic opportunity in the 100th minute when he
headed wide from right in front of goal after a pin-point cross from Ejike.
At the other end, Mouhssine should also have found the net, but got his
near-post finish all wrong after an inviting cross from the left.
The deadlock was finally broken nine minutes before the end of extra time,
Morocco goalkeeper Lamyaghri failing to hold onto a simple cross by Ejike,
which allowed Ibrahim to pounce from close range for the winner.