The Super Eagles were able to defeat Sierra Leone on their travels to secure their ticket to AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast next year. The Nigeria national football team came away with a hard fought 3-2 victory against the Leone stars who came close to stealing a victory from the clutches of defeat.
Nigeria put the pressure on their opponents to start the game and they got their first big chance of proceedings through Victor Osimhen, but his header was saved by Ibrahim Sesay in goal.
Nigeria kept piling on the pressure until they found the breakthrough though none other than Victor Osimhen. The Napoli man who is just coming off a Serie A title and a 30 goal campaign put his nation in the lead with a deftly chipped finish over the keeper after a headed assist from Kenneth Omeruo.
Nigeria vs Sierra Leone: How it happened
Osimhen got his second goal of the day minutes after. A brilliant pass from Joe Aribo beyond the defence found the 24-year-old who successfully put the ball past the keeper in the 32nd minute.
Nigeria could have gone 3-0 up at different points during the first half but Sesay did well to thwart the Super Eagles. One of his most impressive saves on the day came after Samuel Chukwueze was played through on goal into a one on one situation. The keeper showed quick reflexes to get to the ball and denied Chukwueze.
The Villareal man had the ball in the back of the net shortly after though an assist from Osimhen but his goal was ruled out for offside. Before the interval, Sierra Leone pulled one back through Mustapha Bundu in the 41st minute after he was played through by Emmanuel Samadia. He showed good pace to get to the ball and his left footed strike flew past Adebayo Adeleye in goal.
There was a penalty shout just before halftime as Samuel Chukwueze was brought down in the box but his appeals fell on deaf ears. Sierra Leone got a late equalizer through Augustus Kargbo in the 84th minute. After a clever one two at the edge of the box, Kargbo’s drilled strike darted past the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner to level up the score.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game with Adeleye Adebayo (who was having an excellent second half) the opponents at bay late on.
Nigeria eventually got the winner through Kelechi Iheanacho. Although he was the one who finished the move off, It was the powerful run from Zaidu Sanusi through the opposition midfield and defence that created the winning goal.
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Omeruo admits Super Eagles fought hard to win
After the match, Kenneth Omeruo, who wore the captain’s armband on the day expressed his delight at being able to secure qualification for AFCON 2023 as well as showing the required concentration to win the match.
“It was a difficult game; we knew they were going to fight because it is the only opportunity they have to qualify. But, I am happy we kept our head until the end, and we were able to win the game, so I am happy.
“Concentration is very important. The game would have died in the first half. There was a very clear penalty that was not given. That would have killed the game. But, still, we must always stay focused until the end. I am happy we could come back and secure the ticket,” he remarked.
This article was most recently revised and updated 3 months ago