By Ime Bassey
Nigeria’s Under-23 squad, Saturday, survived a first half scare from their Ghanaian counterparts in an All Africa Games first leg qualifier at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin to triumph 3-1 and brighten their chances of qualification.
The Ghanaians parading most of the Under-20 World Cup winning team struck on the dot of 45 minutes through Udinese of Italy striker, Rabiu Mohammed to send cold down the spines of the fans routing for coach Austin Eguavoen and his wards.
A shocked Eguavoen took the half-time break to pass instructions to the boys on the need to win and win well if the return leg in Accra in a fortnight would be of any necessity and just two minutes on resumption of the second half, Nosa Igiebor equalised for his side to send the fans wild in jubilation.
Two minutes after Igiebor’s equaliser, a panicky Ghanaian defence brought down mesmerising Nnamdi Oduamadi for a penalty which Igiebor converted on the 50th minute to bring his haul to two.
Igiebor who turned out the hero of the Under-23 side pulled a perfect cross from a corner kick for Edet Ibok to scramble in for the third goal during a goal mouth melee.
After crashing out of the Olympic qualifiers, the Ghanaians wanted to do to Eguavoen’s Eagles what their female compatriots did to the Super Falcons who will miss the football party at the All Africa Games in Mozambique in September but they met a brick wall from the Nigerians, at least in this first leg.
An much more relaxed Eguavoen said after the post match conference which the Ghanaians boycotted that his players were slow in the first half because of anxiety but he had to tell to step up their game and score in the first 10 minutes of the second half.