By Valentine Amanze
Nigeria’s national football team, Super Eagles, on Saturday made the Liberian Lone Star lonely in Morocco with a 2-0 win in a FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying Match Day five Group C played at the Grand Stade de Tangier.
Two strikes from the penalty spot earned Nigeria all the three points against Liberia to bring the Super Eagles closer to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 ahead of the final Group C match to be played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, on Tuesday against Cape Verde.
Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, drew the first blood in the 14th minute of the first half when he converted a well-deserved penalty kick after Kelechi Iheanacho was brought down dangerously.
Both teams spent much of the time sizing each other up, with the Super Eagles failing to seize on the momentum offered by the first goal to dominate and out-muzzle the ‘hosts’ in an empty arena.
The Lone Star showed some sparkle and got behind the Eagles rear guard on two occasions only to be denied by the on the alert Maduka Okoye.
In the 28th minute, the Super Eagles, though defender, Jamilu Collins, scored again only to be ruled off-side by Tunisian referee Youssef Essrayri.
Osimhen, energetic and vibrant, should have made it two for Nigeria minutes later, but shot into the sky with only de Souza to beat.
In the second half, both teams had chances to score but it was Nigeria that added to their tally in added time, when Osimhen got behind de Souza following a through pass by Iheanacho, only to be upended by Souza.
It offered captain Ahmed Musa, an opportunity to score on a day he became Nigeria’s senior caps’ record holder by playing his 102nd game.
Meanwhile, in a simultaneous group encounter on the Island of Mindelo, Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks came back from a goal down at half time to overcome the Wild Beasts of Central African Republic 2-1.
With the result, the Super Eagles maintain their two-point cushion at the top of the pool and need only a draw on home soil, on Tuesday, to reach the potentially explosive final round scheduled for March 2022.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are currently on 12 points, while second placed Cape Verde are on 10.