Posted by News Express | 6 February 2013 | 3,483 times
It was much easier than expected. This evening at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, Nigeria’s Super Eagles literally crushed their Malian opponents also known as Eagles in the first semi-final of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations holding in South Africa.
Three first half goals left the Malians looking drenched as the squad that upset pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast last Sunday made a mincemeat of the Malians led by veteran midfielder Seydou Keita.
The goal rain started in the 25th when Elderson Echiejile found the net with a perfect header off a Victor Moses right cross.
Three minutes later Nigeria went two goals up after Emenike dribbled down the right flank before floating towards the goal mouth, where Brown Ideye was waiting to finish off perfectly.
Shortly before the halftime break, Emmanuel Emenike struck his fourth goal of the tournament after his 43rd minute free kick close to the Malian vital area was deflected into the net.
On the restart, Coach Stephen Keshi decided to rest Moses and introduce Ahmed Musa in the 53rd minute. Six minutes later, Nigeria spelled MALI when Musa in the 59th minute beat the Malians offside trap, sprinted forward and slotted past the hapless goalie to make it 4-0. Musa had the ball inside the net again four minutes after but the referee ruled it offside.
Nigeria’s goalie Vincent Enyeama was virtually untroubled for much of the match but when the Malians surged forward in the 74th minute, they were rewarded with a goal after Cheick Fantamady Diarra scored during a goalmouth scramble. Keshi, who earlier strengthened the attack by pulling out Ideye to introduce a third home-based player, Ejike Uzoenyi – the others being Godfrey Oboabona and Sunday Mba – strengthened the defence by bringing in skipper Joseph Yobo for Efe Ambrose.
Keshi, a former coach of Mali, had kept faith with the same starting eleven that demolished star-studded Ivory Coast. Once more, they did not disappoint, sending the resurgent African giants into the finals for the first time since 2000 when it they co-hosted the tournament with Ghana.
With the victory, Nigeria are now waiting for either Ghana or Burkina Faso (who clash in the second semi-final at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit) for Sunday’s grand finale in at Soccer City, Johannesburg.
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