With Club football on pause mode as FIFA takes center stage as regards qualification for Brazil 2014, attention turned to national teams. Without an Arsenal encounter to view and with Enyimba grabbing all three points at home in the Glo NPFL, the Nigerian encounter away to Ethiopia was top on my schedule. goal.com reports that:
The Super Eagles went to Addis Ababa and conquered both the altitude and the Walya Antelopes in the first leg of their World Cup qualifier on Sunday. Nigeria conquered the high altitude of Ethiopia with a 2-1 victory as they signified a firm interest in making a fifth appearance in the World Cup in Brazil.
Emmanuel Emenike was the hero for the Super Eagles as he scored the equalizer and the winner in the 89th minute. Ethiopia had gone ahead in the 56th minute when Vincent Enyeama mis-judged a cross from Assefa and the referee, Aliou Neant from Cameroon, ruled that the ball had crossed the line.
The first half started with the Ethiopians on the front foot with their fans howling and making a terrific atmosphere. And it took just two minutes for the Eagles to concede a corner kick that was quickly followed by another.
Emmanuel Emenike then drove the Eagles forward and won a corner kick in the fourth minute. The first shot in anger came in the eighth minute but No. 20 shot wide. After persistent fouling on Victor Moses, Tesfaye was shown the first yellow card of the match in the 12th minute.
Nnamdi Oduamadi then missed the first gilt-edged chance when he mis-kicked Emenike’s cross. Ethiopia then went forward and Saladin Said thought he had scored but Godfrey Oboabona made a fantastic clearance to keep the match at 0-0. Ahmed Musa had a half volley smothered by Butako and then coach Ternat Bishaw called for a water break, a call that was really confusing to the visitors.
Adane Girma should have scored for the Antelopes in the 38th minute when a loose ball from Moses fell to him but after dribbling three Nigeria defenders, he shot wildly over. Girma had another chance in the second minute of added time but Enyeama made a great save.
The second half was not as frantic as it was in the first half and the first chance came for the Antelopes in the 55th minute but Enyeama read the bounce very well and cleared the danger.
The Ethiopians then scored a goal that could best be described as a fluke because Enyeama mis-judged a cross by Assefa and the referee ruled that the ball had crossed the line before the Nigerian goalkeeper claimed it.
Stephen Keshi made changes bringing in Nosa Igiebor for Nnamdi Oduamadi in the 63rd minute as the goal woke up the Nigerians who then went in search of the equalizer.
The Super Eagles should have equalised in the 62nd minute when Moses went one-on-one with the goalkeeper but goalkeeper Tassew did well to save at the feet of the Liverpool man. Minutes later, Keshi withdrew Moses, who had an average game and brought on Brown Ideye.
Their equalising goal came in the 67th minute when Emenike shot a thunderbolt from outside the box. Afterwards, the Nigerians went on the offensive. Musa hit the post in the 77th minute off a terrific pass by Mikel. Nigeria went ahead for the first time in the encounter in the 88th minute when Emenike was dragged down in the box for a clear penalty.
The Fenerbahce player dusted himself off and cooly dispatched the penalty to give the Super Eagles the victory and one leg in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The second leg will be held in Calabar on November 16 at the U.J Esuene Stadium but the Nigerians will believe that they hold all the aces.
Emenike’s performance for the Super Eagles is really wonderful. The AFCON 2013 highest goal scorer was missed in the confederations cup as Nigeria lost to Uruguay and Spain due to unused chances. He is making a claim for the CAF 2013 footballer of the year. He is my Lion of Africa.
For me, it is welcome to Brazil 2014 for the Nigerians. Hope they wont take Ethiopian Airlines to Brazil.
Meanwhile the Nominations for the best Nigerian blog is on. Do good to nominate soccergunz.wordpress.com as the Best New Blog (section 14) and the Best Sports Blog (section 23) on Nigerian Blog Awards.