Nigeria booked a place at next year’s African Nations Championships in Kenya after a 2-1 aggregate victory over Benin.
The Super Eagles B side needed one goal in each half of Saturday’s return leg against the Squirrels to complete a turnaround after Sunday’s 1-0 loss in Cotonou.
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Kano Pillars star Rabiu Ali gave Nigeria the lead on 22 minutes when he rounded up a move which he started to slot home from fourteen yards although replays suggested he was in an offside position before latching on to Alhassan Ibrahim’s pass.
Nigeria doubled their advantage early in the second half when Lobi Stars striker headed home Osas Okoro’s pin-point cross to send the over 30,000 spectators in Kano into raptures.
Benin, unperturbed by the goals concession poured forward and and got a chance to score from the penalty spot when Nigerian centre back Stephen Eze handle inside the box. Squirrels captain Mama Seibou who scored the only goal in the first leg from the spot last Sunday was however denied by Nigerian captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa who dived to his left to save.
Substitute Sikiru Olatunbosun thought he had added icing on the cake for Nigeria with ten minutes left on the clock but his effort was incorrectly chalked off for offside.
Nigeria thus qualify for a third African Nations Championships appearance in a row after failing to qualify for the first two editions.
Ezenwa: Okoro, Akas, Eze, Ariwachukwu: Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Ayagwa 66’) Mathias (Olatunbosun 59’): Rabiu Ali, Alhassan Ibrahim, Odey (I. George 75’), Eduwo.
Rabiu Ali 22’
Kingsley Eduwo 47’