By Jacob Ajom, Calabar
The Super Eagles Saturday booked their way to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations holding in South Africa with an emphatic 6-1 trouncing of the Lone Star of Liberia at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar to bring back smiles to their teeming supporters who were still seething with anger over their 2-2 draw in Monrovia last month.
The goal rush began early in the match with barely a minute into the game when Efe Ambrose out jumped the Liberian defenders to head the ball, off a Victor Moses free kick, beyond the reach of Sherman Nathaniel in goal for Liberia
Moscow-based Ahmed Musa missed some chances to increase the tally after his kicks went off mark by inches but he was on target in the 38th minute when he tapped in Emmanuel Eminike’s cross to make it 2-0 before the break.
Chelsea’s new boy, Victor Moses got a chance to etch his name on the scorers sheet two minutes after resumption with a low kick. A Liberian defender had cleared the ball to ward off a lurking Emenike but Nosa Igiebor latched on to the ball and put a cross to Moses to do the damage.
Goalkeeper Nathaniel got punished for stopping a goal-bound Nosa Igiebor and returnee Mikel Obi was accurate from the spot, sending the Liberian goalkeeper the other way for the fourth goal in the 59th minute.
The Calabar fans, including the Cross River State Governor, Senator Liyel Imoke became ecstatic and intensified their rooting for the Stephen Keshi-tutored lads who were now cruising effortlessly. Keshi had to pull out Emenike for Ike Uche who tried his typical flank runs but his shots missed target.
The Lone Star got depleted after their captain, Gebro Duncan dived during an encounter with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and the referee handed him a second yellow card and a marching order. A few minutes later Uche made it goal number five for the Eagles with a shot that brushed off the left post.
With five goals in the kitty, the Eagles took their boots off the throttle, with Moses even having the luxury to jog the ball. The Liberians were not deterred though and Patrick Wleh outpaced an Eagles defender in the box and hit the ball to Enyeama’s right for a consolation.
That goal could have prodded the Eagles to move up once more after playing to the gallery to the admiration of the chanting fans. Mikel, who got some hard knocks from the Liberians, ran to the left, looked up before sending a cross for Moses to nod home for the sixth and his second.
The victory sent fans across Nigerian cities jubilating, thumping their chest that once again their darling team would not be missing from the African football party like last year when a last minute equaliser from Guinea ensured that Nigeria’s flag was not hoisted in the last Nations Cup on even number years co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea/Gabon.