The Super Eagles of Nigeria eked out a 1-0 win against Zambia at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Saturday to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a game to spare.
The win allowed Nigeria to move six points clear at the top of Group B, above Zambia whose slim hopes of qualifying were extinguished.
Nigeria started on the front-foot and threatened to score early on in the match with the pace of Victor Moses and Moses Simon on the wings proving especially tough to contain. The two players almost combined to produce the opener in the 16th minute but Chelsea’s Moses was unable to meet Simon’s cross with only the keeper to beat.
The visitors gradually grew into the game and prevented the hosts from creating further clear-cut opportunities for most of the first half while causing problems at the other end of the pitch.
In the 72nd minute, Odion Ighalo wasted a glorious chance to score after he was setup by Moses much to the frustration of the fans in the stadium, but they didn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough which came one minute later when Shehu Abdullahi drove in a low cross into the box which substitute Alex Iwobi finished off with a well placed shot which flew past Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Nigeria held on for the win to become the first African country to confirm their participation in next year’s mundial.