Nigeria reached the group stage of the African qualifying race for the 2018 FIFA World Cup after the Super Eagles defeated Swaziland 2-0 in Port Harcourt on Tuesday evening.
Goals by Moses Simon and Efe Ambrose in the second half sent the Eagles through, but the much higher -ranked Nigerians were the first to admit that the Sihlangu made them work for the aggregate win.
“For a fact, Swaziland’s FIFA ranking is unfair to them. They played with their hearts over the two legs and made things pretty difficult for us,” Nigeria’s Head Coach, Sunday Oliseh said at the post –match conference.
Tame shots by Odion Ighalo and Sylvester Igbonu were the much that the Super Eagles could come with in the first half, and although the supply was better from the midfield that it was in the first leg in Lobamba on Friday, the chances begged for someone to grab them.
The second half began like the first, with Igbonu shooting wide from a good opportunity inside the box.
It took a moment of brilliance from a set –piece for the near capacity at the Adokiye Amiesiamaka Stadium to heave a sigh of relief.
Moses Simon, not usually one for the set –piece, chose his angle carefully from 22 yards and goalkeeper Gwembu could do nothing about it, as the crowd, which included Governor Nyesom Wike, leapt for joy.
There were yellow cards for Igbonu and Efe Ambrose before Onazi and Simon wasted brilliant opportunities. Swaziland came very close with seven mnutes to go, but Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme tipped the ball over the bar.
At the other end, the lively substitute Ezekiel Bassey as giving the Sihlangu all manner of problems, and from one of the rash challenges, Efe Ambrose stole in to direct the lobbed free –kick into the net for the Eagles second goal.
The Super Eagles will be one of the 20 teams in the group phase of the African series for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which begins in October 2016.