Nigeria dug deep to come away with a 3-0 win against plucky Mozambique last night to qualify for the quarter-finals of the African Cup of Nations in Lubango, Angola. Victory ensured that the Super Eagles joined defending champions and fellow Group C side, Egypt - who beat Benin 2-0 yesterday - in the last eight of the biennial competition. The Pharaohs had already qualified with wins over Nigeria and Mozambique.
The two-time winners Nigeria only needed a draw to make it past the group stage, and two goals in many minutes from Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie, and a late strike from Wolfsburg's Obafemi Martins put paid to any hopes the Mambas had of a first last-eight spot. The win will have put to rest rumours that beleaguered coach Shaibu Amodu's job was in immediate danger. With the Super Eagles' recent loss of form creating public furore at home, Nigeria's football federation even put out a statement on their website.
"The team may not be playing as well as people expect but it is a combination of factors and it is unfair to heap all the blame on the head coach," Taiwo Ogunjobi, the head of the federation's technical committee, said on the eve of the match. In the night's other game, Egypt firmly shut the door on Benin's long shot at qualification early in the game after Ahmed Al-Muhammadi and Emad Moteab scored in the eighth and 24th minutes respectively.
Egypt, as Group C winners, will now play the second place team from Group D, which concludes today. Gabon lead Group D with four points and play bottom-placed Zambia (one point) tonight while Cameroon, on three points, play Tunisia who have two points. Nigeria will play the Group D winners. @Email:email@example.com