The West African giants return to the continent’s show piece tournament with an emphatic victory in Calabar on Saturday
[email protected] Amos
Nigeria defeated Liberia 6-1 on Saturday to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations 8-3 on aggregate.
Efe Ambrose opened scoring for the Eagles, Ahmed Musa added a second in the first half before Victor Moses scored a brace, Mikel Obi and Ikechukwu Uche added one each for the Nigerians. Patty Wleh scored the lone goal for the visitors.
Coach Stephen Keshi qualified Nigeria for the Afcon after he qualified Togo and Mali – becoming the first African coach to qualify three different countries for the competition.
Keshi chose to start Emmanuel Emenike ahead of Ikechukwu Uche in attack and kept faith with Vincent Enyeama between the sticks. But it was cruise control as the Eagles scored six goals to herald maybe another era for the Eagles.
The Eagles scored just 58 seconds into the match through an unlikely source in Ambrose who rose highest to head in a free kick from Moses. But instead of that to set a tone for the match, it was the Liberians that came back stronger and could have levelled the game in the third and fourth minutes through Tisdell Tonia.
The midfield was anchored by Chelsea man Mikel and it was no surprise that Nosa Igiebor was chosen along with Obiorah Nwanko. The coach also elected to go with the speed and guile of Musa and Moses to support Emenike in attack.
After that first minute goal, there were a lot of misplaced passes from the Eagles and the transition from midfield to attack was not coordinated with the Liberians growing in confidence but Musa scored in the 38th minute to settle the nerves of the technical crew and the fans that thronged the UJ Esuene Stadium.
Igiebor almost made it three in first half added time but he blazed over in the six-yard box.
The second half started with the Liberians on the front foot as Tonia got another chance which he missed.
Moses scored the third goal in the 49th minute off a good pass from Igiebor and two minutes later, Igiebor was brought down in the box by goalkeeper Nathaniel Sherman for a penalty kick.
Mikel stepped up and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to make it 4-0. Ikechukwu Uche came on for Emenike in the 52nd minute. The Eagles had to wait for another 18 minutes before Uche got his customary goal – an assist from Igiebor.
Liberia got one back in the 80th minute through Wleh but Moses added his second in the 88th minute to add gloss to the emphatic victory. The champagne was really on ice and it was let to flow at the final whistle by referee Daniel Bennet from South Africa as the Eagles booked their flight to South Africa.