Nigeria’s Super Eagles prevailed over Group A opponents, Mozambique, in their second game of the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Wednesday.
Midfielder Rabiu Ali’s brace, Ifeanyi Edeh and Nanen Barnabas Imenger Jr.’s late strike helped the Nigeria team overpower the Mambas and a 6-goal thriller at the Cape Town Stadium.
Both teams were prepared to pounce on each other and earn crucial victory, and had already led and leveled once apiece in an end-to-end opening 20 minutes of the game, going into the interval leveled at 2-2.
But it was Nigeria who took their chances and saw out the encounter in another frantic second-half, keeping pace with group leaders South Africa and Mali, who had earlier drawn their penultimate group game to remain just a point ahead of the home-based Eagles.
Keshi rang some changes from the side that lost to Mali on opening day of the competition as Gbolahan Salami started from the blast of the whistle while Kano Pillars’ midfielder Abdullahi Shehu came in for the injured Ikenna Paul (muscle strain) and Enyimba’s Bright Essieme made his national team debut in place for Benjamin Francis (knock).
Dario Khan guided Mozambique into the lead just nine minutes after kick-off when Nigeria goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim couldn’t deal with his free-kick.
Nigeria ensured parity moments later as Ifeanyi Edeh volleyed home a sumptuous effort after evading the Mozambicans’ defence.
Ali then stunned the Mambas with a thunderbolt of a shot that was parried into the net by goalkeeper Soares Soares, two minutes later.
And with Nigeria now in the ascendancy and Eagles pouring forward in search for a third, Warri Wolves goalie Agbim made some horrendous mistake to allow Diego Alberto level up for the opponents in the 19th minute following a through pass from Manuel Fernandes.
Second-half was however not different from the opening period in terms of pace and the counter-attack football.
Eight minutes after restart, Guinean match official, Aboubakar Bangoura, sighted a Mambas defender handle the ball in the area and signaled for a spot-kick.
Ali stepped up to convert from the six yard to make it 3-2.
A frantic goalmouth scrambled almost saw 2014 CHAN debutantes Nigeria double their lead in the 74th minute, but it was Barnabas Imenger Jr., who made the headlines last month after becoming the first son of an ex-Nigeria international to play in a competitive match for the national team, that ensured all three points for Eagles.
The second-half substitute guided home an horrible clearance by the Mozambicans’ defence, lobbing the ball over Soares to seal victory for Nigeria.