Nigeria’s Super Eagles beat Seychelles 3-1 to finish top of Group E of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The three-time African champions already sure of their place at the tournament which will be staged in Egypt before yesterday’s match at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, needed just a win to ensure they finish top of Group E regardless of the result between Libya and South Africa in Sfax on Sunday.
Odion Ighalo opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before Rody Melanie – against all odds and all thanks to a Francis Uzoho howler – levelled for the Pirates to end the first half in a stalemate.
But goals from Henry Onyekuru and substitute Moses Simon won the game for the Gernot Rohr-led squad.
William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo were preferred centre-back partners, with Leon Balogun – who had injury concerns before the game – left on the bench. Shehu Abdullahi regained his right-back spot after missing out on the previous games through injury.
Galatasaray winger Onyekuru made his full international debut in a competitive tie, replacing the unavailable Samuel Kalu on the right wing of a 4-3-3 formation – with Odion Ighalo leading the line.
Having missed the last two AFCON finals, Nigeria have now joined hosts Egypt, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Morocco ,Uganda and others as the teams already guaranteed slots at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, to be hosted by Egypt.
Meanwhile the team continues preparation for the 2019 African Cup of Nations when it takes on Egypt in an international friendly on Tuesday at the same venue. The Pharaohs will present one of, if not the, sternest tests to the Super Eagles’ title credentials. As seven-time winners and hosts, in addition to boasting the monstrously talented Mohamed Salah. The Pharoahs go into the tournament as clear favourites.
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