In a terse, ‘not according to plan’ match, the Super Eagles of Nigeria qualified for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup by beating a very skillful and spirited young Chipolopolo of Zambia through Alex Iwobi’s 74th minute lone strike.
It is the sixth time the Super Eagles will be participating at the World Cup and the current team looks like the real deal causing anticipation of a great showing at the World Cup. Nigeria is also the first African country to qualify for Russia 2018 repeating the feat last achieved in 1997.
However, today’s match didn’t go according to plan and punditry was almost put to shame once again!
As highlighted in the preview, the Zambians are arguably the most improved team in Africa at the moment. They are young, skillful, strong and daring. Their string of good performances against the Desert Warriors of Algeria had boosted morale to the highest levels and thought had shifted to bigger things like beating the Super Eagles right at home.
All the above gave the Chipolopolo the impetus to frustrate their more illustrious host. They played like the team at home in large spells in the first half and could have scored a valid goal save for a foot of offside. No one could have the determined the response from the Super Eagles had that goal been given.
The first half couldn’t have come quickly enough as the Super Eagles struggled to cope with the speed and agility of their guests.
A renewed Eagles emerged in the second half. A decent stretch of possession showed better focus and determination from Nigeria as the Zambians began to feel the class of their host particularly from the influential Mikel Obi and Victor Moses.
Quick exchange of passes from the wing and pull back from Moses Simon was cleanly connected by substitute Alex Iwobi with 16 minutes left in regulation time.
The roar of approval and loud celebration in the Uyo Stadium highlighted the significance of that goal.
All that is well ends well – Russia; here come the Super Eagles!