Nigeria's John Obi Mikel, center, defends against Benin's Mouri Ogoubiyi, left, during their African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match at the Ombaka National Stadium in Benguela, Angola. Photo : AFP

Nigeria’s Eagles returned to winning ways at the African Nations Cup with a slim win over Benin Republic in the second group C game in Benguela. But the way they struggled and picked up injuries cast doubts on their fitness.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored the only goal of the match from the spot in the 42nd minute of the game after a Benin defender handled the ball off an Osaze Odemwingie header.

Benin were a hard nut to crack for the Eagles as they defended well and attacked with all zest. Razak Omotoyossi caused anxious moments for the Eagles defence featuring Joseph Yobo and Danny Shittu at the centre. However, the Eagles pressed with Chinedu Ogbuke-Obasi and Yakubu probing for goals, while John Obi Mikel and Dickson Etuhu held forth in the middle.

After the break Benin fought back looking for the equaliser. They hit the post twice with Vincent Enyeama well beaten.
Yobo worked tirelessly to keep Omotoyossi in check and at the end he picked up an injury and was replaced by Onyekachi Apam. Up front goal scorer, Yakubu was pulled out to make way for Obinna Nsofor, who tried with Obasi to make the Benin Squirrels suffer, but there was no way for Nsofor as Benin defended so resolutely, keeping the Eagles at bay and keeping the scoreline down.

Speaking after the game, Mikel, who was voted man of the match for the commanding role he played in  the game said that it was important that the Eagles came off with the win.

“After our loss to Egypt we all felt disappointed. Against Benin it was our resolve to play and win and I am glad we won, it was through team spirit,” Mikel stated.

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