By Paul Bassey, Nairobi
It would have been unfair if it came from any other player apart from Ahmed Musa. Fresh from an inspired Russian league win with.CSKA Moscow…it was only logical that the petite winger should be given a starting role by Coach Stephen Keshi and he did not dissapoint tormenting the Kenyan defenders with his electrifying runs.
After series of unconnected crosses, he was rewarded in the 85th minute when he decided to go solo, raced past Brian Mandela in the Kenya defense before cheekingly lobbying the ball over on-rushing goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng…for Nigeria’s much awaited goal.
The hype apart, the Kenyans did not really come to the party and two minutes on, Musa speedily intercepted a ball meant for George Owino.raced in and crossed perfectly for Ideye, only for the not too brilliant attacker to miss a sitter by wanting to displace an opponent instead of hitting first time .
The Eagles continued to dominate, especially in the midfield where Mikel Obi, Sunday Mba and Onazi held sway. Call it tactical play to conserve energy, yet you will be disappointed that despite the massive advantage possession wise, the Nigerians could not make hay, missing again and again
With goalkeeper and skipper Enyeama virtually on holiday, and the defense line of Omeruo, Ambrose, Echiejile and Obobona not tested, the Eagles continued to make life difficult for their hosts to the chagrin of the over 40 thousand spectators especially from the midfield.
In the 20th minute Oduamadi broke free from the right, displaced two defenders and was in a goal scoring position when he was brought down but the referee waved play on to the relief of the weakened home fans.
The Eagles returned in the 28th minute, but again Ideye fluffed the chance by reacting too slow to a ball that was handed to him for the kill.
At this stage the Kenyan bench deprived of Coach Eden Amrouche who was handed the marching orders in Calabar and banned for one match, did not know what to do as the Eagles intensified their quest for the all important goal which did not come till the end of the first half.
The second half took the pattern of the first as Oduamadi at point blank range with only the goalkeeper to beat saw his trial deflected by the legs of goalkeeper Ochieng in the 47th
Musa continued his runs down the right flank but with no commensurate reaction from his colleagues in an afternoon where it was evident Nigeria needed to shop for attackers and fast too.
With the midfielders also not joining in the attack, Keshi brought out Sunday Mba for John Oguh and followed it up with Tony Ujah for off form Brown Ideye. The replacements helped to intensify steam, yet the goals refused to come.
Just when the Kenyans were ready for a draw, and goalkeeper Ochieng had been booked for wasting time, Musa struck.
With this victory, Nigeria has shot to the top of the log with eight points and with a victory over Namibia next week in Windhoek, will qualify for the next round of the world Cup Africa qualifiers with a match to spare.