CHAN qualifier: Ezenwa inspires Nigeria past Benin Republic


Super Eagles B Team captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa saved a penalty to help Nigeria book a place in the 2018 African Nations Championship after they defeated Benin Republic 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate) at the Sani Abacha stadium, Kano.

A goal in each half from Rabiu Ali and Kingsley Eduwo was all the Super Eagles needed to to overturn a one goal deficit from the first leg.

Rabiu Ali put Nigeria ahead in the 23rd minute after a beautiful build up play from Ibrahim Alhassan and Stephen Odey. Kingsley Eduwo doubled the lead in the second half when he headed home a cross from Osas Okoro.

FC Ifeanyi Ubah goalkeeper became the hero of the day with his 65th minute penalty save. Ezenwa guessed right to stop Benin Republic captain Mama Seibou’s spot kick to keep Nigeria ahead on aggregate.

“It was not an easy game, we are happy for this great victory. We were not happy when we lost in Cotonou, we tasked ourselves not to disappoint our country and we prepared for a big game. We came back home and put the defeat behind us. I am happy we were able to make our Nation proud of the league players,” Ezenwa told after the game.

Seibou scored the Squirrels of Benin’s penalty in Cotonou last weekend but the former Sunshine Stars goalkeeper said he was confident of saving Seibou’s penalty this time.

“I was confident I will save the penalty today, he was lucky in the first leg. I told him I will save the penalty before he kicked it, I made the right decision and I was happy I help my country,” said Ezenwa.

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