Alex Iwobi’s 73rd minute strike gave Nigeria a 1-0 win over Zambia and secured a world cup ticket for the Super Eagles in Russia next year. It would be Nigeria’s 6th appearance to the World Cup.
The Arsenal midfielder came in as a sub for Moses Simon in the 64th minute and scored in the 73rd minute from a low cross from Shehu Abdullahi. It was his second goal in a week after scoring Arsenal’s second goal against Brighton Hove and Albion in the Premier League on Independence Day (October 1).
Gernot Rohr started the same team that defeated Cameroon 4-0 in Uyo and drew 1-1 in Yaounde. Daniel Akpeyi’s return couldn’t keep Ikechukwu Ezenwa on the bench.
The Zambians needed a win to turn the tables around following their impressive performances against Algeria. They had the ball in the goal in the first half but it was chalked off for offside.
The Super Eagles had to make an early substitute after Ogenyi Onazi hobbled off in the first half. Mikel Agu was called upon as a replacement. The fans expected John Ogu and Mikel Agu didn’t help matters with an uncoordinated display immediately he came. He settled in and did his job though.
The fans were beginning to get restive before Iwobi – making his 11th appearance for Nigeria – stunned the Zambians in the 73rd minute. Shehu Abdullahi put an good shift and capped it up with an assist and the Man of the Match award. Ola Aina finally got his debut for Nigeria when he came in for an injured Echejile towards the end of the game. Nigeria held on to a clean sheet with credits to the Oyinbo Wall of Leon Balogun and William Ekong-Troost and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
The victory was Nigeria’s 4th in the group stage and means the Super Eagles now have 13 points, 6 more than Zambia in second with only a game left to play. Cameroon defeated Algeria 2-0 in the other game.
Congratulations to Nigeria. Hello Russia.