CHAN Eagles Redeem Image, Beat Benin Squirrels To Qualify For Kenya 2018
HOME-BASED Super Eagles lived up to their pre-match boast, yesterday, beating Squirrels of Benin Republic 2-0, in Kano, to qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Kenya.
The Nigerian team suffered a shock 1-0 defeat in the first leg last weekend in Cotonou.Also in for the Kenya 2018 Championship is Zambia, who scored a brace through Justin Shonga, against South Africa, in the second leg of their qualifying tie at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, in Ndola, yesterday. The Zambians went through on aggregate of 4-2 after a 2-2 draw in the opening leg in South Africa, last week.
At the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, the CHAN Eagles, coached by Salisu Yusuf, scored through Rabiu Ali, in the 22nd minute, and Kingsley Eduwo, in 47th minute to hand the country its ticket to Kenya on 2-1 aggregate score.
The Squirrels had themselves to blame as they failed to convert a penalty awarded them late in the second half. Goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa saved the day for Nigeria by stopping the penalty kick.
Stephen Eze was solid in defence for the Eagles, just as Chima Akas proved that he a player to rely on when the championship commences next year in Kenya.Six years ago, Nigeria was eliminated from the championship by Niger Republic who shocked the CHAN Eagles 2-0 on aggregate in qualifying for the finals of the 2011 tournament.
Yusuf said the Eagles still have a lot of work to do to make them the team to beat at the biennial football championship next year.“Yes, the players played up to 70 per cent, 80 per cent to instruction, but not 100 per cent, we saw some mistakes here and there, but we are happy they came through. Hopefully, we will work very hard to correct the mistakes to ensure we go to the championship with a good team.
“I’m happy that we secured the CHAN ticket at the end of the day at the expense of the Beninese side,” he told supersport.com.Yusuf however spoke glowingly of the West African opponents for their good football display. “Benin Republic team play like the Cameroonians going all out as a unit and every one of them is quite effective,” said Yusuf.
South Africa will not be in the party in Kenya next year, following their 2-0 defeat by Zambia yesterday.As early as the seventh minute, Chipolopolo showed their intentions when a shot at goal by Augustine Mulenga shaved off Bafana keeper Bruce Bvuma’s post.
A few minutes later, Ernest Mbewe nearly opened the scoring when his brilliant header went agonisingly wide of Bvuma’s goal.It took Bafana Bafana 30 minutes to cause trouble for the Zambian defence. Dumisani Zuma tried two shots at goal but could not trouble keeper Toaster Nsabata, as the Kaizer Chiefs player missed the target.
There were no goals in the opening half. However, the return from the tunnel saw the South Africans pushing for an early goal and Bonginkosi Ntuli took a shot, yet he failed to find the back of the net.
As the encounter entered the final 20 minutes, Thabo Senong’s charges produced brilliant moves, but Sibusiso Khumalo’s header went wide.Despite South Africa pushing for an opener, it was Shonga’s goal, which separated the two nations as he sprung the offside trap before beating Bvuma.With seven minutes remaining, Shonga completed his brace as he finished from close range to ensure a 4-2 aggregate advantage.