Coach Stephen Keshi has praised his Super Eagles for excellent teamwork after a 1-0 win over Kenya that earned them three precious points in a crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Ahmed Musa’s delightful chip over goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng with nine minutes to go, and Malawi’s failure to win against Namibia in Blantyre same day, means the African champions will reach the final qualifying fixture of the 2014 showpiece should they beat Namibia in Windhoek and Kenya hold Malawi in Blantyre on Wednesday next week.
“I will not single out any player for praise. This is a sweet victory for us and it was only possible by teamwork. Everyone played his part and at the end, we are happy to have the three points.
“However, our focus is now on the match against Namibia in Windhoek next Wednesday. We have to pick maximum points from that match as well, to make sure of our progress in the race, even ahead of the last matches in the group,” Keshi said at the post-match parley.
Kasarani’s aging Moi International Sports Centre rocked endlessly before kick-off, as Kenyan football fans massed behind their team, hoping for a miracle. It did not happen.
Nigeria nearly got the start they so much wanted, after two minutes, when the pacy Musa stole the ball from Jamal Mohammed on the right channel and then fed Brown Ideye, but the striker procrastinated and then lashed the ball well away from goal with his unaccustomed left foot.
Ahmed Musa’a free-kick flashed past Ochieng and goal after the quarter-hour and there were those who felt Ivorian referee Noumandiez Doue should have awarded the Super Eagles a penalty after Nnamdi Oduamadi was tripped in the box four minutes later.
The first half ended scoreless, but Nigeria resumed like a house on fire only for the lively Oduamadi to see his shot blocked by Duncan Ochieng after freeing himself in the box in the 46th minute.
Musa again watched helplessly as his cut back went begging in the 52th minute. Joseph Akpala, who replaced Ideye failed to connect in the 73th minute, and Mikel Obi, who had a marvelous game, shot over the woodwork with 15 minutes left.
However, Musa’s goal gave the scanty Nigeria crowd joy, and the Super Eagles will now travel to Windhoek on Friday knowing they had flicked the flourescence button on their 2014 FIFA World Cup chances.