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AFCON 2021 Qualifier: Super Eagles Edge Benin Republic 2-1 In Uyo
AFCON 2021 Qualifier
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AFCON 2021 Qualifier: Super Eagles Edge Benin Republic 2-1 In Uyo

Felix Egbomuche

Felix Egbomuche

Nigeria commenced their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign on a winning note, defeating the Squirrels of Benin 2-1 at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Wednesday.

Victor Osimhen's strike from the spot on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Sessegnon’s early goal before winger, Samuel Kalu, won it for the Super Eagles.

Nigeria started the game the more composed of the two sides, passing the ball around and trying to drag the Beninese whose game plan was to sit deep and hit on the counter.

The tactics looked like they were going to earn them a result away from home after they shocked their hosts with an early goal.

Former Premier League star and captain of the Benin team, Stephane Sessegnon, pushed the ball past a stranded Daniel Akpeyi after he was left unmarked in the box.

The goal seemed to spur their play, as they asked questions of the Nigerian defence that was all over the place.

Gernot Rohr's men, however, stabilized things as the game went on and began to create chances of their own as they searched for an equalizer.

Wing wizard, Samuel Chukwueze, came closest to levelling the score for Nigeria but his strike hit the frame after he had beaten the goalkeeper.

The Super Eagles kept pressing and their efforts were eventually rewarded late in the first half. After a beat exchange with a teammate, Ola Aina was brought down by a Benin defender and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

Lillie forward, Victor Osimhen, stepped up and smashed it low and hard past the goalkeeper and into the bottom left corner.

Nigeria resumed the second half the way they ended the first, pressuring the Squirrels’ defensive organisation without any luck.

The resilience of the visitors was broken in the 63rd minute by Bordeaux star, Samuel Kalu. The winger dazzled his way past three defenders before slotting the ball home.

The lead was almost extended by Osimhen but his effort hit the side of the woodwork to the dismay of the home fans.

That miss almost proved costly in the final quarter of the match when the away side charged at the Nigerian defence. A fierce strike by a Benin forward hit the crossbar after some nonchalance in the Eagles' play saw them lose the ball.

From there on, the Nigerians defended more compactly while the forwards and midfielders passed the ball amongst themselves to snuff out some valuable seconds.