Football: Awoniyi stars as Nigerian ‘Dream Team’ win
Taiwo Awoniyi was the two-goal hero as Nigeria edged Zambia 2-1 at the weekend to reach the 2015 All-Africa Games football tournament.
Part of the African youth championship-winning team last month, Awoniyi opened and closed the scoring for the ‘Dream Team’ at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka.
Friday Samu levelled 17 minutes from time for Zambia, who entered the second leg of the final round qualifier hopeful of success having forced a 0-0 draw in Abuja.
Defending champions Ghana, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Sudan and Senegal also secured places at the September 4-19 tournament while hosts Congo Brazzaville qualify automatically.
Popularly known as the ‘African Olympics’ the All-Africa Games is a quadrennial multi-sport event spanning two weeks with the under-23 football tournament always a major attraction.
The elimination of record four-time champions Cameroon by Zimbabwe after a 1-1 draw in Yaounde was a major upset.
Zimbabwean national teams and clubs have a long history of being unable to defend narrow leads when they travel in Africa, but this time they came up trumps.
The visitors surrendered the one-goal lead they took to Stade Amadou Ahidjou when Cameroonian Brice Tchamabo converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
But the ‘Young Warriors’ equalised through Blessing Moyo early in the second half from another spotkick.
Goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva then defied the ‘Indomitable Cubs’ with several superb saves as the hosts sought the two goals needed for victory.
Ghana defeated Mozambique 2-0 in Tamale with Bright Adfei scoring the decisive second goal 10 minutes from time.
The Mozambicans won 1-0 in Maputo via an own goal and another own goal gave the Ghanaian ‘Black Meteors’ the return match lead midway through the second half.
Mahmoud ‘Kahraba’ Abdul-Moneim finished leading scorer in the qualifiers with four goals after getting the first in a 2-0 home win over Burundi, who lost the first leg by the same score.
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