Insipid Eagles get just about enough to qualify for Cameroon 2019

Published in Awa Football November 17 2018 font size decrease font size increase font size
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It was mind-numbing. It wasn't a game made in the sun—although it was played in the baking sun of 35°C. It wasn't the best we have seen these Super Eagles go about their business but it was good enough to get the job done, seal the assignment, at the end of it all. 

Having missed the previous two editions of the African Cup of Nations, Eagles exorcised those demons and sealed the berth for Cameroon 2019 with a game to spare—just like they did the World Cup. 

Bafana Bafana, at the beginning of this qualification campaign, rained on Uyo and stunned everyone to run away with a 2-0 victory that jerked everyone awake from their slumber to realize there's infact loads of work to be done. 

A rejuvenated Eagles steadied the rocked boat by going full gung-ho on the remaining 2 contenders in the group, putting 10 goals past them in a sweeping tirade of victories that sent them top of the table with 9 points and just 1 more needed to concrete return to the biggest football event on African soil. FNB stadium in Johannesburg was the location and against a Bafana Bafana that had picked them apart. 

Injuries and suspension to vital characters, that have been catalysts in the quick resurgence, compounded the already heightened tension and forced Gernot Rhor to attempt a 3-5-2 with Kenneth Omeruo, John Ogu, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa handed starting roles. 

Eagles imposed themselves on the game from the onset, Captain Ahmed Musa's pace and guile proving to be beyond a handful for the Bafana Bafana defence. He exchanged a luscious give-and-go pass with Iheanacho to put Nigeria in the lead but it was wrongfully chopped off for offside. 

But no such mistake could be made when Samuel Kalu scuttled to the byline and sailed in a dangerous cross that Buhle Mkhwanazi bundled beyond Itumeleng Khune's experienced grasp. Super Eagles were up.

Bafana Bafana responded almost immediately, Parcey Pau, a perennial threat to Nigeria, on the edge of the Eagles box, somehow, chopped the ball past a wall of Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong like they were pieces of furniture. Pau released Lebo Mothiba for a simple tap in with an outwitted Ezenwa sprawling on the lawn. 

From then on, it was all Bafana Bafana. Circling the Eagles in blurry rushes of yellow and green with Pau as the chief orchestrate. They explored the balance the sluggish midfield and repressed the wing-backs to limited defensive roles. 

However, Ahmed Musa was again wrongfully called offside after a delicious defense-splitting pass travelled to him and he finished it in-between the legs of Khune.  

It was dull. It was banal but the Super Eagles have managed enough to get them to first ever AFCON to be staged in the raining season of June/July. 

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