Three-time Africa champions Nigeria’s Super Eagles wrapped up their successful 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a 3-1 win over minnows Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Friday.
Wingers Henry Onyekuru and Daddy Moses Simon scored the decisive goals in the second half after both teams had ended the first in a 1-1 stalemate – Odion Ighalo’s 35th minute spot kick cancelled out by Rody Melanie.
Despite having already assured themselves of a spot in Egypt in the summer with a game to spare, Nigeria lined out majority of their regulars including England based stars Oghenekaro Etebo, Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi.
The latter was arguably the best player on the pitch in the first half as he had two of his headers comfortably saved by Seychellois goalkeeper Ah Kong Jan. Etebo was guilty of shooting off target on a number occasions while Kong also saved a well-struck free kick by the former Warri Wolves star.
Nigeria got their breakthrough when Ndidi was felled in the box after controlling Abdullahi Shehu’s cross, the centre referee pointing to the penalty spot. Like he did in the reverse fixture in September, Odion Ighalo converted the spot kick to give Nigeria the lead.
The visitors however pulled level three minutes to the break in surprising circumstances. Gervais Waye-Hive’s free kick was dropped by Nigerian goalkeeper Odinaka Uzoho, allowing Melanie to score from 12 yards.
Turkey-based Onyekuru restored Nigeria’s lead five minutes after the break when he headed home Jamilu Collins’ left-wing cross. The goal was the forward’s first in the national team colours.
Head coach Gernot Rohr gave Denmark-based Paul Onuachu his national team debut when he introduced him in place of Oghenekaro Etebo. The forward had a rather underwhelming display on his debut though.
With the game winding down, Nigeria got their third on the dot of 90 minutes through Spain based Simon who replaced Ighalo just three minutes earlier. After a failed dribbling move by Jamilu, the ball fell to the winger who rolled the ball well in his stride before firing a daisy cutter beyond Jan.
Nigeria will face Egypt in an international friendly on Tuesday at the same venue as they begin preparations for the 2019 AFCON in earnest.
Uzoho; Shehu, Ekong, Omeruo, Jamilu; Ndidi, Etebo (Onuachu 65′), Iwobi (Semi Ajayi 72′); A. Musa, Ighalo (Simon 87′), Onyekuru.