By Onukogu Kanayochuqu Jubal –
After the Super Eagles of Nigeria were held by Cameroon in Yaounde yesterday, leaving them in need of a point from their last two games to get to Russia 2018, Minister of Youth & Sports Development Solomon Dalung, who met the players just before they left their hotel for the stadium and gave them a message of encouragement from President Muhammadu Buhari, hailed the players for their spirit and sure -footed approach.
“The Super Eagles have done very well. They have made Nigeria proud and I commend them. We are close to getting the ticket to Russia 2018.”
However, it was NFF President Amaju Pinnick who was most elated, as he expressed confidence that the Eagles would wrap-up the World Cup ticket when they host Zambia in Uyo next month.
“This was the toughest World Cup qualifying group in Africa and the Super Eagles have been excellent. I praise them for their efforts since the qualifying campaign started and I want them to go for the three points against Zambia, so that we can wrap up the ticket quickly without further delay.
“Everyone called it the ‘Group of Death’, but we are alive to tell the story and a very good story at that. We await Zambia and I believe the sweet story will be completed in great style.”
On the half-hour, Nigeria got the lead that their self –assured approach deserved when Odion Ighalo, giving as much trouble to the Cameroonian defence as he did three days earlier, latched onto a Moses’ pass and got the ball into the box. It was returned, but a lurking Abdullahi Shehu floated it back, and Moses Simon rifled into the roof of Fabrice Ondoa’s net.
Ighalo and Moses threatened the Lions’ defence further, and in the second half, Nigeria continued where they left off as Moses continued to prove quite a menace to the hosts while goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa would not allow any ball past him.
On the hour mark, Cameroon coach Hugo Broos brought on Christian Bassogog and Aboubakar, which enlivened the Lions’ game, and after Moses came close to getting a second for Nigeria with a deft chip that missed narrowly, referee Papa Gassama duly pointed to the penalty spot after Ezenwa foiled Arnaud Njoum in the box in the 73rd minute. Aboubakar scored to level up.