By Victor Okoye
Nigeria’s home based Super Eagles have qualified for the finals of the African Nations Championship(CHAN), their first ever, after edging Sudan 1-0 in the semi-final played in Marrakech.
The Nigerians will on Sunday meet hosts Morocco, who earlier spanked Libya 3-1.
Gabriel Okechukwu scored Nigeria’s winning goal in the 16th minute.
As early as the 12th minute, the Super Eagles were dealt a huge blow when goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa sustained an injury, forcing him to be replaced by Oladele Ajiboye.
Three minutes later, Sudan had a glorious opportunity to grab the lead in the 15th minute, but Ajiboye was quick to read the danger.
However, it was Nigeria who found the back of the net a minute later when Gabriel beat Elhadi Akram from close range with a low shot.
In the 25th minute, Gabriel came close to bagging his brace when his left-footed shot sailed inches wide of Akram’s left corner.
Despite good moves and dominance by the Falcons of Jediane in the dying stages, it was 1-0 at halftime for Salisu Yusuf’s men.
Nigeria looked threatening in the second half, but Ifeanyi Ifeanyi was shown the red in the 58th minute after a dangerous tackle.
Coach Zdravko Logarusic’s men would take advantage of the situation and Osman Ismaeil saw his powerful shot going wide, with Ajiboye becoming a spectator.
With three minutes to go, Sudan were also reduced to 10 men when Bakri Bachir received a straight red for bringing down Solomon Ojo.
Nigeria’s Ajiboye kept his team in the game after producing two brilliant saves in the 90th minute to ensure they are through to the final.
The defeat for the Sudanese means they will meet the Mediterranean Knights of Libya in the third-place play off on Saturday
In the first semi-final match in Casablanca, hosts Morocco were inspired by Ayoub El Kaabi, who scored two goals to take his tournament tally to eight overall.