Nigeria qualify for World Cup 2014 By SAMM AUDU | Saturday, November 16 2013 at 20:48
Nigeria on Saturday qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after beating Ethiopia 2-0 at home in Calabar in the second leg of their decisive play-off to go through 4-1 on aggregate.
Victor Moses gave Nigeria the lead after 20 minutes when he tucked away a penalty after Anyalem Hailu handled the ball inside his box, and substitute Victor Obinna doubled Nigeria's lead on 82 minutes when he fired home a free-kick to kill off the game and the tie.
The reigning African champions thus march on to their fifth World Cup finals having also featured at the 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010 tournaments.
But the Super Eagles' display on Saturday inside the packed 15,000-capacity UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar was laboured and, until Obinna's late goal, Ethiopia were still in with a chance.
CSKA Moscow forward Ahmed Musa said it was a dream come true to qualify for what will be his first World Cup, but he blamed the hot weather for the team's subdued outing.
"I thank God for the World Cup ticket, it is a dream come true for me. It has been my dream to go to the World Cup and I have made it," Musa remarked.
"We would have done a lot better today but the weather was hot and this worked against us."
Meanwhile, Celtic defender Efe Ambrose now hopes the Eagles shine in Brazil, saying: "I am happy to be part of this history making. My target is now to help my country do well at the World Cup."
Ambrose came close for Nigeria right at the start of the game and goalkeeper Sisay Bancha then made a one-handed save from Emmanuel Emenike from 10 yards out as the home team pressed for an early opening goal.
Ethiopia's Saladin Said then saw a shot from a tight angle flash across the face of the goal before Moses calmly dispatched his penalty to put Nigeria ahead after Hailu was penalised.
Only a good Bancha save prevented Moses from scoring another goal half an hour in, and then Brown Ideye came close to doubling Nigeria's lead when his header off a cutback from the right by Ogenyi Onazi narrowly missed the target.
Bancha again denied Nigeria when Onazi's left-footed shot in the 43rd minute was kept out by the outstanding Ethiopia goalkeeper and Ideye could not put away the rebound.
Ethiopia had set their stall out to defend in the first half, but they came out of their shell after the interval and had a penalty appeal turned down in the 51st minute before Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama made a brave save at the feet of Shemeles Bekele as they continued to fight for the equaliser.
On the hour, Bancha blocked an effort from Emenike inside the area after the Fenerbahce striker broke free of his marker.
Ethiopia attacked and played with a lot more urgency in the closing minutes of the encounter, but they lacked the bite to really trouble the home defence, and their hopes were ended when the power on Obinna's late free-kick proved too much for Bancha. (AFP)
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