The Super Eagles of Nigeria sealed top spot in Group E of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers (AFCON) after beating the Pirates of Seychelles 3-1 in their final group game in Asaba, Nigeria.

Having held the Eagles to a 1-1 draw in the first half, after Odion Ighalo’s goal was cancelled out by Roddie Melani, Henry Onyekuru and Moses Simon popped up with one goal apiece in the second half to seal the victory for Nigeria.

Odion Ighalo opened the scoring for Nigeria from the penalty spot.

William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo were preferred centre-back partners, with Leon Balogun – who had injury concerns before the game – left on the bench. Shehu Abdullahi regained his right-back spot, while Jamilu Collins was prefered to Ikouwem Udoh at left back.

Also, Galatasaray winger Onyekuru made his full international debut in a competitive tie, replacing the unavailable Samuel Kalu on the right wing of a 4-3-3 formation – with Odion Ighalo leading the line.

 

After holding the Super Eagles for the first half-hour, the Pirates’ good work for over a  was undone when Jude Nancy fell Ndidi in the box, leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Ighalo sent Ha Kong the wrong way to net his seventh goal of the qualifying series.

Against all odds, Rody Melanie leveled for Gavin Jeanne’s side after Uzoho’s howler, from an indirect free kick, gifted the visitors their second goal in qualifying. Ighalo came close to restoring Nigeria’s lead but the woodwork came in the way of his fierce low drive and both sides went into the break on par.

With the score leveled at the interval, Onyekuru redeemed his uneventful first-half showing, converting from a similar situation where he had fumbled, putting the Eagles in the lead.

Making his first start for Nigeria, Henry Onyekuru got the second goal for Nigeria

In the 65th minute, Paul Onuachu was handed his debut, with Etebo making way as Rohr reshuffled things. Free-scoring Rotherham United midfielder Semi Ajayi was also drafted in for Alex Iwobi.

Ighalo made way for Simon late in the game after falling badly, but the Levante winger took the chance to make the points safe for the Super Eagles, smashing in a low effort to end the game 3-1.

Alex Iwobi wriggles past his marker during the game.

In the 65th minute, Paul Onuachu was handed his debut, with Etebo making way as Rohr reshuffled things. Free-scoring Rotherham United midfielder Semi Ajayi was also drafted in for Alex Iwobi.

Ighalo made way for Simon late in the game after falling badly, but the Levante winger took the chance to make the points safe for the Super Eagles, smashing in a low effort to end the game 3-1.

 

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There are very few things in life that make me happy, but talking and writing Sports has to be at the top. I honed my broadcasting skills at the University of Lagos Radio Station and have free-lanced for platforms like Top Radio and Superscreen TV amongst others. Deji loves running commentaries on Football matches and Athletics, and is now a Junior Sports Writer at Making of Champions. He hopes to become a Sports Agent in the future.

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