Home-based Super Eagles yesterday resurrected their African Nations Championship (CHAN) hopes with a 4-2 defeat of the Black Mambas of Mozambique at the Cape Town Stadium.
Having lost their opening Group A matches to Mali and South Africa on Saturday respectively, Nigeria and Mozambique knew that another defeat was going to end their campaign here.
Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi made changes to the side that lost 2-1 to the Malians but got more than be bargained for when a schoolboy error by captain and goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim in the 10th minute, allowed captain Dario Khan to score the opener from 45 yards. It was an a long free kick, almost from the centre and how Khan’s ball found the back of Eagles net still remains a mystery to all as Agbim left his post chasing shadows, only to find himself scurrying back to catch nothing. It was a pathetic sight which left his teammates dejected.
It was an unbelievable error from the 29 year-old Enugu Rangers goalkeeper, who had a miserable night in goal for the Eagles, who should do better with another goalkeeper in between the sticks.
But for the sheer grit of his teammates, who were determined to bounce back from their opening day loss to Mali, Agbim would have captained Eagles out of the tournament. And it would have been a disastrous outing for the side making their debut at the tournament, which is in its third edition.
A minute after Agbim’s blunder, Enyimba’s ace Ifeanyi Ede scored the equaliser and it got better for the the west Africans in the 13th minute when Rabiu Ali edged the Nigerian 2-1 up, to the delight of their fans, who made their voices heard in Cape Town.
But that joy was cut short in the 20th minute when Diogo netted the equaliser for the Mozambiquans, who threw in everything they had to rattle the Nigerians. Agbim was more disastrous. He rushed out for the through ball but heavily struck the ground instead, allowing Diogo to easily make hay. Agbim had gifted Mozambique two goals.
In the second half, Ali scored his second of the night on 54 minutes and Barnabas Inienger Jr.added the fourth three minutes from regulation time to send Mozambique out of the tournament, while the Eagles still have a chance of qualifying for the knockout round if they get a good result against South Africa in their final Group match on Sunday. Barnabas is the son of Barnabas Inienger who played for the national team under Clemence Westerhof who also nurtured the junior Barnabas at the Kwara Football College of Excellence which was started by Kojo Williams.