In a statement by presidential spokesman, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president applauded “the indomitable spirit with which the Super Eagles fought back from being three goals down to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and win a most memorable victory with almost the last kick of the match.
“The President commends the courage, patriotism, determination and dedication to national service exhibited by the Super Eagles today to all other Nigerians. He urges the team to maintain their exemplary commitment to national duty until ultimate victory in the continental soccer championship for home-based players is achieved.
“President Jonathan assures the team and its handlers that they will continue to receive the fullest possible support from the Federal Government and all Nigerians as they strive to add the African Nations Championship trophy to the African Nations Cup which Nigeria won last year. He joins all other patriotic and proud Nigerians in praying for the success of the team in the semi-finals and finals of the tournament.”
Victory for the Super Eagles came when Aliyu Ibrahim struck late as Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles dramatically qualified for the African Nations Championship semi finals with a thrilling 4-3 win over Morocco on Saturday. The result meant the Super Eagles have zoomed to the semi finals of the competition.
Morocco swept into a 3-0 lead when Mohsine Moutaouali’s brace and Iajour Mouhssine caught the Azubuike Egwuekwe marshalled defence line unawares.
Morocco scored thrice in seven minutes during the closing stages of the first half.
It was a frantic second half with three goals coming after the break.
Enugu Rangers midifielder Ugonna Uzochukwu brought Eagles back to life at 3-1 with a close range effort.
Minutes after Ugonna’s restoration effort, Kano Pillars playmaker, Rabiu Ali smashed home a volley on the edge of the 18-yard area to make the scoreline 3-2.
The Morocco technical crew would be disappointed when the boys threw away their advantage after some clinical finishing in the first half.
Credit must go to Nigeria, though, who staged a late fightback when it looked like Morocco would be comfortable in victory.
Amid the series of pressure by Nigeria, petit Ejike Uzoenyi collected his 3rd goal of the tournament in the 90th minute, thus dragging the game to extra time.
Super Eagles’ game was built on a three-man midfield and early pressing, and twice they could have gone ahead before Ugonna’s effort.
With Ugonna forging a good partnership with Abdullahi Shehu and Rabiu Ali they helped Nigeria recover from a slow start.
9 minutes before the end of extra time, Nigeria turned the game completely on it’s head.
Lamyaghri failed to hold onto his ball and Aliyu Ibrahim took advantage of his blunder to fire the West Africans to the semi finals of the tournament.
- Additional reports from: http://www.allnigeriasoccer.com/read_news.php?nid=11497