Odd Odion's hat-trick seals victory for Eagles over Mediterranean Knights

Published in Awa Football October 13 2018 font size decrease font size increase font size
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One particular scene summed up everything. One not-so-familiar scene. In the 75th minute when Odion Ighalo was withdrawn for Isaac Success. The entire Godswill Akpabio Stadium rose to it feet to applaud the man. That player who hitherto seemed to have cemented a sorry place in the black book of football loving Nigerians after a woeful World Cup performance.  The relief on his face was almost palpable as he wriggled his fingers and bobbed in a psuedo-ShakuShaku while celebrating his third goal which he squeezed in after his first effort was blocked by Abdauala. 

 

His selection, as the arrowhead of 3-man attack that has the pace and guile of Samuel Kalu and Ahmed Musa on either side, was met by disapproving mumblings from a large section of fans who are still nursing his inexplicable throe of misses that, most believed, exited Super Eagles from the World Cup. But he came in here with a newfangled determination and hunger that he has been churning out for, only recently, Chuangchun Yatai. He relentlessly hounded a flat-footed Abdauala with just 3 minutes into the game and the Libyan buckled and dragged Ighalo down. Penalty. The striker slot it into bottom left corner to start what was heading for an onslaught. 

 

Ighalo grabbed a deserved second when he licked up a sumptuous defense-splitting pass from, another top performer, Alex Iwobi and rounded up the goalkeeper before sticking the ball home. The Libyans were technically better, showing glimpses of outstanding poise and movements but the directness and grit of the Eagles relegated their possession-based game to smithereens. 

Saltou was more than a handful for the 'Òyìnbó Wall' as his dexterity almost cracked them and drag Libya back into the game but his header was clawed out acrobatically Francis Uzoho. 

 

Twice the Eagles crashed the post. First, off Wilfred Ndidi's header from an Ogenekaro Etebo's freekick and more painfully, the newcomer Collin Jamiu's effort that kissed the underside of the bar after a blistering counter-attack that left the Libyans high-line defense in mess. 

 

Gloss was added to the already glittering victory by Samuel Kalu who curled in a beauty and sprinkle stardust into what was a stellar performance far superior to the unadventurous display in Seychelles last month. 

 

Having accounted for his profligacy at the  Mundial, Odion Ighalo was applause till he disappeared into the covers of the bench. Relieved. Burden lifted. His name expunged from the book that has Yakubu Aiyegbeni on the first page. 

 

 

 

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