Sports

Nigeria seals semi-final berth at CHAN

CHAN Eagles books a semi final meeting with Sudan by beating Angola 2-1 to qualify for the last four of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) as a last minute goal from Anthony Okpotu forced the game into an extra time before Gabriel Okechukwu hands them a well deserved win.

Nigeria 2 Angola 1 (aet) : Okpotu, Okechukwu On Target As Eagles Seal Semifinal Spot
As early as 20 seconds, Eagles striker Okpotu burst through on goal, but he slipped at the vital moment with only the goalkeeper to beat. It was guilt-edged miss by the forward.

In the ninth minute, it was the turn of Emeka Atuloma to score but the former Heartland midfielder missed from a corner-kick.

There was a terrible blow for Nigeria on 13 minutes when Kalu Orji was forced from the field following an ankle injury. Timothy Danladi took his place.

The Palancas Negras weren’t afraid to attack and they showed quality. Lanky defender Stephen Eze made a last ditch clearance to prevent Vladimir Va from scoring in the 19th minute.

On the half hour, Eagles keeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa produced a great save to keep out Calesso Manu’s powerful shot from an acute angle.

The jittery Danladi made a school boy error and almost caused his team to go behind but Ezenwa stood firm to rescue his side. Ezenwa came up twice to trump Calesso Manu.

A timely clearance by Braulio Nary in the last action of the first half ensured that the scoreline was 0-0 at the break.

He cleared off the line to deny Okpotu after the goalkeeper failed to gather a cross with the wind causing all sorts of havoc.

Okpotu spurned a simple chance with the Angolan shot-stopper stranded in the 50th minute and his miss haunted Nigeria afterwards.

Angola opened the scoring in a rather fortunate circumstances as Danladi’s attempted clearance canon of Va and into the back of the net.

Atuloma tried his luck from range, but the ball was always rising in this wind as the Eagles pressed for the equaliser.

Ezenwa then came to Nigeria’s rescue once more. This time to deny Va his second from point-blank range.

Substitute Okechukwu watched on in agony as his attempt struck the woodwork, onto the Angolan goalkeeper’s head and away from danger in the 77th minute.

The busy Okechukwu then hit his attempt over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat with six minutes left to play at regulation time.

Okpotu leveled matters on stoppage time after missing a catalogue of chances throughout.

At extra time, Rabiu Ali fired over the crossbar following a quick break from the Eagles.

Okechukwu turned hero as he made amends with a left-footed shot into the back of the net from the edge of the area.

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