September 12, 2017 By Sahr Morris Jnr
Nigeria defeated a ‘wasteful’ Sierra Leone side to qualify for the group stage of the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup in Ghana, thanks to Moses Okoro and Moses Peter’s late strike at the Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana.
The Eagles will now take on host Ghana in a Group A clash on Thursday, while Sierra Leone will use the next available flight home.
Sierra Leone dominated the opening exchanges and almost took the lead three minutes when Donald Wellington drove behind the defence, but failed to beat the Nigerian keeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, in a one-on-one situation.
Ten minutes later, Donald Wellington was at it again when he met a low free-kick from the right, but again he was thwarted by the Super Eagles shot-stopper.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa was certainly at his best for Nigeria between the sticks, with yet another close range save to deny Nathaniel Tongo Vula in the 15th minute when he broke behind the defence.
The Super Eagles’ first real attempt on goal only came in the 22nd minute, but Samuel Mathias fired his powerful shot inches over from 25-yards out.
Ten minutes later Sierra Leone’s Lahai Coker tried his luck from long range, but his stinging shot was well-saved by Ikechukwu Ezenwa who was keeping Nigeria in the game.
Neither side could break the deadlock before half time as the teams entered the tunnel locked at 0-0.
Five minutes into the second half, Donald Wellington should have given Sierra Leone the lead when he found himself unmarked and in space 14-yards out, but he fired hopelessly wide.
Nigeria took control of the match after that and came close to
Six minutes later Uche Akas drove into the box again and while his shot was on target this time, the Sierra Leone keeper was on hand to make a spectacular fingertip save to deny him.
In the 76th minute, Amadu Barrie was gifted a golden opportunity to give the Leone Stars the lead when he broke through on goal, but with all the time in the world and just the keeper to beat, he failed to do so after shooting straight at Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
Three minutes later, the action was at the other end of the park when Rabiu Ali let fly with a pile-driver from the edge of the box, but the Sierra Leone keeper made a good one-handed save turn the ball around post.
In the 85th minute Moses Okoro won the game for Nigeria with the goal of the tournament thus far after curling a 22-yard free-kick into the top left corner, 1-0.
The icing on the cake for the Super Eagles was their second goal two minutes later when Moses Peter made it 2-0.
Meanwhile, Mali and Guinea are the other teams in group A. Mali scored two late goals to defeat Mauritania 3-1 at the same venue earlier in the day. Moussa Kone was the hero of the day for the Malians as he registered a brace for his side.
Mandala Konte opened the scoring after he tapped in a ball, before Mauritania snatched the equaliser through Samba Cheikh. Kone scored twice- in the 88 minute and 91 minute to send Mali to the group stage of the 2017 WAFU Cup.