Nigeria First African Nation to Qualify for World Cup

By Malamine Sane
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Nigeria has become the first African nation to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil after beating Ethiopia 2-0 this Saturday in Lagos. Victor Moses and Victor Obinna were the two goalscorers, and the Green Eagles are the 22nd country to qualify for the World Cup.

After winning 2-1 in the first leg in Ethiopia, Nigeria was in a very comfortable position to clinch their ticket for Brazil. Stephen Keshi‘s  men just needed a draw to ensure their presence in Brazil.  This time, the Green Eagles will be looking to do better after failing to go beyond the group stage in 2010 in South Africa.

Nigeria started the game with the intention to score quickly and kill Ethiopia’s hopes. In the 6th minute, Emmanuel Emenike forced the Ethiopian goalkeeper Rancha to a save with a close range shot.  The Ethiopians tried to react but were struggling to keep the ball. The first goal of the game came at the 20th minute from a penalty converted by Liverpool player Victor Moses after a handball by Ethiopian defender Aynalem. Moses’ goal made it nearly impossible for Ethiopia who then had to score three times to qualify.  At the break, the score was 1-0.

With their back on the wall, the Ethiopians started the second half pushing to get a goal.  Putting more intensity and keeping the ball better than in the first half they forced the Nigerians to defend deeper but lack the cutting edge to create chances. Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama  had a rather quiet afternoon and didn’t have to make many saves. Nigeria doubled its lead in the 82nd by Victor Obinna with a wonderful free kick.  Obinna’s goal killed Ethiopia’s last hopes of a comeback.

Nigeria has clinched its fourth qualification in five World Cups. The Green Eagles have been the most consistent African nation at the World Cup for the last 20 years. With players like John Obi Mikel, Moses and Emenike, they could be one of the good surprises next summer in Brazil.

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