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Eagles tame Cameroon’s Lions

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Nigeria’s forward Odion Ighalo celebrates his second goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 6, 2019. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

Odion Ighalo was the hero inside the Alexandria Stadium yesterday. The China-based striker, who scored one of the goals when Nigeria defeated Cameroon 4-0 in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in 2017, netted twice yesterday against the same Indomitable Lions to take the Eagles to the quarterfinals of the on-going African Cup of Nation in Egypt.

Alex Iwobi scored the third goal that saw Nigeria eliminating the defending champions from the competition.
 
With the three goals, Super Eagles were $75,000 richer thanks to the chief executive of Aiteo group, Benedict Peters, who promised the team $25,000 for every goal scored against the Cameroonians.

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Yesterday’s game was as tough as all the previous encounters between the two giants of African football, which saw improved Cameroon fighting to get their first victory over Nigeria since 2000.
 
The Indomitable Lions had the first sight of goal when Pierre Kounde whipped in a corner to the centre of the box, but Michael Ngadeu-Ngadj’s header went over the bar.
 
Nigeria took the lead three minutes later.

Yaya Banana fell Ahmed Musa on the left-wing and from the resultant free kick taken by Musa, the ball fell to Ighalo off a scuffed effort by Kenneth Omeruo.

Ighalo was calm enough to tap in the ball from close range via a deflection.
 
Nigeria’s lead stirred the Indomitable Lions to action as they surged forward in search of the leveller. They got the equalizer they efforts deserved in 41st through Stephane Bahoken, who sneaked past an inattentive Omeruo to put Christian Bassogog’s cross beyond Daniel Akpeyi.
 
The goal unsettled the Super Eagles, who fell behind just two minutes later when the impressive Clinton Njie beat Akpeyi when Bahoken put him through.
 
Nigeria had the opportunity of getting back level before the break but Moses Simon failed to hit the target when put through by Wilfred Ndidi.

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The Eagles however found the equalizer in the 63rd minute when Chidozie Awaziem curled the ball into the box to Musa, who chested it down for Ighalo to score with a first-time volley.
 
Just as the fans were getting ready to see how Cameroon would react to the goal, Nigeria went further ahead when Ighalo turned provider for Alex Iwobi, who slid the ball past Andre Onana for the winner.
 
Ighalo nearly bagged his hat-trick with 15 minutes to go when Samuel Chukwueze passed the ball back across the face of the goal for the unmarked Super Eagles striker, but Onana dealt with his first-time effort towards the top left-hand corner easily in the end.
 
Speaking at the end of the game, Team Captain, John Obi Mikel said the fighting spirit displayed by the players, particularly in the second half, impressed him
 
He said: “They put up a good fighting spirit in the second half and I was really impressed.”
 
Mikel, who has been nursing injury since the last group match against Madagascar, which Nigeria lost 2-0, revealed he may be fit before the quarterfinal.

Also speaking on the game, Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State the Eagles are capable of beating any team that comes their way in the quarterfinal.

Sanwo-Olu, who is in Egypt as part of the Federal Government delegation, spoke with journalists shortly after the Eagles overpowered the Cameroonians.


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