Nigeria overpowered staunch rivals Ghana 2-0 on Monday to reach the semi finals of the West African Football Union Cup of Nations ongoing in Ghana.
With only two points from their first two matches of the group phase and their backs to the wall, the Super Eagles produced a heartwarming performance to defeat the hosts and reach the last four without conceding a goal.
Coach Salisu Yusuf rang changes as he promised in the build –up, and the sure –footed Eagles should have been up before the half –time whistle. But Anthony Okpotu (who led the scorers’ chart in the just –ended Nigeria Professional Football League season with 19 goals) and champions Plateau United’s winger Peter Eneji scored within the first 10 minutes of the re-start to put Nigeria in the driving seat.
Infused with the self assurance of the A team, which decimated African champions Cameroon 4-0 in Uyo and came within 15 minutes of a famous win in Yaounde in World Cup qualifying matches earlier this month, the Eagles dug their feet into the ground and inflicted on the home team its first defeat of the tournament.
There was no way back into it for the Black Stars who had already qualified by nicking the maximum points from their first two matches against Guinea and Mali.
Victory affirmed Nigeria’s second place in Group A and the reward is a semi final date with the winner of Group B on Thursday. Guinea and Mali, the two other teams in Group A were deadlocked at 1-1 and both crashed out.
The Super Eagles have now scored four goals in the tournament, conceding none, following 2-0 wins over Sierra Leone (victims in a knock –out first round) and Ghana, and with two scoreless accounts against Mali and Guinea.
Coach Yusuf told thenff.com at the end of Monday’s match: “I am happy with the output of the boys on the day. I told them we just had to win and they went out there and got the job done. We look forward to the semi finals with confidence.”