The Flying Eagles of Nigeria on Monday 18th April 2011 at the Dabsonville Stadium in Soweto South Africa got their campaign off to a flying start with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Black Starlets of Ghana. It was a match that witnessed the best of African football from both sides.
The unfortunate aspect of the game however, was the bad state of the pitch which was not helped by heavy rainfall and lack of maintenance. The pitch was bumpy and very heavy on the surface. It was difficult for the players to exhibit their skills in such situations.
The John Obuh tutored team however dictated the pace in the early minutes of play and were duly rewarded in the 17th minutes of play when Rangers F.C of Enugu forward- Innocent Nwofor latched unto a fine pull out from Abdul Ajagun to make it 1-0 in favor of Nigeria.
The Ghanaian were stung and the goal woke them up from their slumber. Their effort to equalize was resisted by the defence line-up ably marshaled by the experienced Terna Suswan. Goalkeeper Danjuma Paul who kept goal for Nigeria was called into actions on some few occasions but he was up to the task.
The defending champions however got the needed equalizer off a glancing header by striker Kwame Nsor in the 32nd minutes after some nice interchange of play at the flank. It was to remain stalemate in the first 45 minutes, as both teams could not break the deadlock.
At the resumption of the 2nd period of play, Ahmed Musa of VVV Venlo of Holland became a thorn in the flesh of the Ghanaian defence, with his beautiful runs down the right flank. James Achampong who was manning the sticks for Ghana was the busier of the two goalkeepers, as Innocent Nwofor and Ahmed Musa ensured he was on his toes in the early minutes of the 2nd half.
The game was almost heading towards a stalemate when out of nothing Innocent Nwofor found some space close to the Ghanaian flank and was getting set to make a pull out when the ball made a wicked bump and flew past the hapless James Achampong for the decisive winner. It was a rather bizarre goal, as the striker never believed his luck when the ball rested in the back of the Ghanaian net. The goal was scored in the 82nd minutes of the 2nd half.
Several attempts by the Black starlet to salvage a point from the game proved futile as the Flying Eagles defence frustrated each effort. The blast of the referee whistle at the end of the game witnessed some wild jubilation at the bench and among the players as they celebrated the acquisition of three precious points from their West African rivals.
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