WAFU CUP: Rabiu Ali sends Nigeria to tournament’s final

WAFU CUP: Rabiu Ali sends Nigeria to tournament’s final

Rabiu Ali scored the only goal as Nigeria advanced to the final of the 2017 West African Football Union (WAFU) Cup of Nations after a 1-0 victory over 10-man Benin on Thursday.

Ali, who celebrates his 37th birthday next week expertly finished off a superb counter-attacking move by Nigeria on 11 minutes to score what turned out to be the only goal of the game.

Benin were dealt a further blow just after the half hour mark when Merceline Koupko received a second booking minutes after he had been booked for simulation. 

After a balanced opening ten minutes in which both sides created half chances, Nigeria seized the advantage after winning the ball in their own half. Ifeanyi Ifeanyi’s long ball was picked up by striker Tony Okpotu who freed Ali with an exquisite pass, leaving the Pillars legend to finish from ten yards, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Nigeria thoroughly deserved their win and went close to sealing the victory early in the second half when Ubong Friday met Rabiu Ali’s cross with a header but it flew just over the bar.

Friday’s teammate at club level Gabriel Okechukwu also went close late on, rounding the goalkeeper before shooting goalwards but Nigeria-based Beninoise defender Salomon Junior cleared off the goal line.

Nigerian goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa had little to do in the game as the Super Eagles soared high beyond the reach of the Squirrels. Remarkably, Nigeria are yet to concede a goal in the tournament, stretching their run to five clean sheets.

Nigeria finished as Group A runners up after beating hosts Ghana 2-0 in their final group game and will be looking forward to a re-match in Sunday’s final with the Black Stars who face surprise package Niger in Thursday’s other semi-final.

2 Comments

  • Reply Sola Aiyepeku September 22, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Liverpool could do with a similar defensive record right now! ?

    • Reply Fisayo Dairo September 22, 2017 at 12:42 am

      Lol. Oh well! I can help out with the full details of the centre backs ahead of the next transfer window.

      Olamilekan Aniyikaye – FC Ifeanyiubah, ambidextrous, composed and assured. #BetterThanLovren

      Stephen Eze – FC Ifeanyiubah, extremely tall, right footed, sweeps #BetterThanMatip

      Emmanuel Ariwachukwu – Akwa United, right footed, no-nonsense #BetterThanKlavan

      Make your choice. ALOHA

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