By Victor Okoye
Nigeria’s Super Eagles brought down to earth Libya’s Mediterranean Knights at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) as they beat them 1-0.
The Libyans had beaten Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in their first game.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the home-based Eagles edged out Libya by a lone goal through Sunday Faleye in their CHAN Group C match at the Stade Ibn Batouta in Tangier, Morocco on Friday.
The victory took the Super Eagles to the top of the group standings with four points from two games played so far, after being held to a goalless draw against the Amavubi of Rwanda in their first game.
The Mediterranean Knights slipped down to second spot, with three points, earned from thrashing Equatorial Guinea 3-0 on Monday.
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— The NFF 🇳🇬 (@thenff) January 20, 2018
The Super Eagles threatened first just three minutes into the game when a long throw into Libya’s box found Stephen Eze, who flicked it, but Anthony Okpotu failed to get a touch to tap it in.
Osas Okoro then played a dangerous curling cross into the Libya box in the 21st minute and Masaud Sand made a crucial clearance as Nigeria continued to press the Mediterranean Knights.
Libya were awarded a free-kick in a promising area on the half-hour mark and Mohamed Aleyat stepped up, and forced Nigeria goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa into a comfortable save.
Nigeria were finding it difficult to penetrate the Libyan defence which was marshalled by Ahmed El Trbi, who put his body on the line in the 40th minute – blocking Stephen Eze’s thunderous long-range shot.
The score was 0-0 at half-time following a tightly contested first-half with both teams looking very organized at the back.
Nigeria did most of the attacking in the early stages of the second-half and nearly broke the deadlock in the 55th minute.
This was after Emeka Ogbugh forced Libya keeper Muhammad Nashnoush into a good save with a header after some good work by Faleye.
Abdulsalam Omar, Libya’s second-half substitute, tried to make an immediate impact after being introduced on the hour-mark, but his long range shot narrowly missed the target.
Faleye, who was looking lively for the Super Eagles, cut inside from the left hand side and unleashed a long range effort which missed the target without troubling Nashnoush in the Libya goal in the 77th minute.
However, Faleye did break the deadlock two minutes later when he fired home Emeka Atuloma’s corner-kick to make it 1-0 to Nigeria with the Libyan defence caught ball watching in their own box.
The momentum was with the Super Eagles in the closing stages of the game, but they could not double their lead and ultimately, Nigeria emerged 1-0 winners over Libya.