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2014 World Cup Qualifiers: Nigeria and Ivory Coast through to Brazil
The first set of 2nd leg play-off matches to determine which African nations will take part in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was played today, with Nigeria confirming their superiority against Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast squeezing a draw against Senegal.
Nigeria 2-0 Ethiopia
Nigeria haven’t lost a match at home since 1981, so the odds of Ethiopia beating the Super Eagles were low from the start. In Calabar, it was clear from the kick-off that the Walya Antelopes were going to struggle and the carnival atmosphere in Calabar was also against them.
Ethiopia’s nervous and imature defense cost them early on when Ayanelem Hailu, the man who conceded the last minute penalty in Addis Ababa, conceded yet another penalty, due to a handball. It is an arguably harsh decision, however, as the ball bounces off Hailu’s leg before hitting his arm. Victor Moses stepped up and easily beat Sisay Bancha, to give Nigeria the lead and an even more comfortable advantage.
The Antelopes tried to respond, but Getaneh Kebede’s weak shot which went wide of goal was probably their best chance of the whole match. That, coupled with their defensive naivety culminated with them suffering their second goal.
Saladin Bargicho ruthlessly body checked Emmanuel Emenike close to the box, getting a yellow card in the process, and substitute Obinna Nsofor’s powerful free kick flew past Bancha, who could’ve done a much better job in the process, and put the final nail in Ethiopia’s World Cup dream, with 8 minutes to go before the end of the match.
2-0 the final result in Calabar and the Super Eagles become the first African nation to qualify for the World Cup and Stephen Keshi the first Arican coach to qualify two different nations, after Togo in 2006.
Senegal 1-1 Ivory Coast
A well-filled Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca saw the most exciting match of the day, as Senegal needed to score two goals against an Ivory Coast who were to keep their advantage and hopefully extend it.
The Teranga Lions went all in from the start of the match, with Idrissa Gueye standing out in the midfield, whilst the Ivory Coast were tense, retracted and their big figures virtually anonymous during the first half.
The second half was pretty much a repeat of the first. Senegal threatning and the Elephants still discrete and in need of changes.
In the 77th minute, things spiced up when Didier Drogba commited a foul on Salif Sané and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Moussa Sow took it expertly and gave Senegal a fighting chance in the tie.
Deep into injury time, the Lions had a very good chance to double the lead and send themselves to Brazil, but a goalmouth scramble ended being cleared away.
The following play, Ivory Coast counter-attacked, Yaya Touré gave the ball to Salomon Kalou, who shot straight between the legs of Bouna Coundoul and booked the Ivorian tickets to Brazil, without a shadow of a doubt.
1-1 in the end, with Senegal looking promising, but the Ivory Coast are the ones to fly to the land of the samba, but with plenty to work on, on what may be the “golden generation”‘s last chance for glory.