CHAN: Brave Home Eagles Stop Sudan, Qualify For First-Ever Final

CHAN: Brave Home Eagles Stop Sudan, Qualify For First-Ever Final

By James Agberebi: Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have qualified for the final of this year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) after pipping Sudan 1-0 in the second semi-final on Wednesday night in Marrakech.

This is Nigeria’s first-ever final and they will face hosts Morocco in Sunday’s grand finale in Casablanca.

Gabriel Okechukwu was the hero for the Home Eagles as his first half goal was enough to seal a final berth.

Both teams were reduced to 10 men as Ifeanyi Ifeanyi was sent off for Nigeria while Bakri Bachir received his marching orders for Sudan.

The Home Eagles were forced into an early change in the 11th minute as goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was stretchered off due to an injury after colliding with Stephen Eze as they both attempted to stop a Sudanese attack and was replaced by Dele Ajiboye.

Sudan went very close on 15 minutes but Saifeldin Malik Bakhit was quickly closed down by Eze before Ajiboye gathered the rebound

But it was the Home Eagles who took the lead in the 16th minute through Okechukwu who ran on to Anthony Okpotu’s knock down, sprinted towards goal before slotting the ball under the onrushing Sudanese keeper Akram El Hadi Salim.

Okpotu almost doubled Nigeria’s lead in the 20th minute after he was played through on goal by Rabiu Ali but hit his effort against the Sudanese keeper.

Okechukwu was unlucky not to have had his second goal after neatly beating his marker on the edge of the box but saw his low left-foot strike go inches wide.

In the 30th minute, Sudan had a chance after their player spotted Ajiboye off his line and attempted a long strike but the Home Eagles second choice got back quickly to make an easy save.

Sudan went on a counter after Osas Okoro gave the ball away in the opposition half but Bakhit’s header from a cross went just wide off target.

With a minute left in the first half, Ajiboye made a double save, first beating a Sudanese player to a cross before diving full length and palming a goal-bound header against the post before Kalu Orji cleared the rebound.

One minute into the second half, Okechukwu missed a big chance to make it 2-0 after he was played through on goal only to fire a tame left-foot strike which the Sudanese keeper easily picked up.

The Sudanese keeper was called to action again in the 50th minute as he flung himself to stop Dayo Ojo’s shot from the edge of the box from sneaking in.

Sudan should have equalised in the 55th minute following a brilliant interchange of passes but Ajiboye got down well to make the save.

In the 58th minute, Ifeanyi was shown a second yellow card and was sent off for a dangerous tackle.

Sudan had a chance to level scores in the 65th minute after Suleiman Omer found himself facing the Nigerian goal but misfired.

Ajiboye was called to make a save again in the 76th minute as he got down well to stop a long range strike from going in.

Substitute Ibrahim Mustapha connected with a header off Okoro’s set piece but his effort went wide with just over 10 minutes left.

Sudan had two good chances in the 84th minute but were first denied by Ajiboye who made a one-handed save from close range before Okoro made a goal line clearance.

Sudan were reduced to 10 men in the 87th minute after Bakri Bachir was shown a straight red card for tripping Ojo who was goal-bound.

From the resultant free-kick, Okoro saw his well struck effort go inches off target.

Sudan almost drew level in the 91st minute but Ajiboye made a superb flying save tipping the ball over the bar for a corner.

From the corner, Sudan went close again but a Nigerian defender cleared off the line.

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  • My second time of accurate prediction and am hopeful of rewards this time around

  • igbode williams 2 years ago

    i pray so my brother. This is my first time of predicting and it was accurate. My reward is sure banker. Up home eagles and up you 4 Ajiboye.

  • Musibau 2 years ago

    Okpotu’s performance in this championship has left many asking “how he managed to emerge last season NPFL leading goalscorer?”
    While Ajiboye was warming up to replace injured Ezenwa, honestly, I had that safest confidence he would put up a classical performance; as he had done this on several occasions. He came to the party when it mattered most; with those pinpoint magical saves.
    Wishing CHAN eagles victory in sunday’s grand finale against Morocco.

  • PapaFem 2 years ago

    We can forgive their ‘sins’ because they won. But the truth is the team struggled against an organized Sudanese team. It will be tougher against a very motivated Moroccan team, who will stop at nothing to win the cup in front of their fans. Salisu needs to ring changes if our injured players are available. Okpotu to me is too crude for the national team. Most of his decision makings are wayward. He did little going forward against Sudan. Save for the assist which bred the only goal, I can’t place finger on anything he did right in that match. If Falaye is available, Salisu should be brave enough to pair him with Gabriel. The later is more comfortable on and off the ball than the Lobi Stars striker. I pray for the quick return of Atuloma and Ogbuh. We sorely missed them because I don’t really like that Ifeanyi Ifeanyi style of play. He’s always very rash in his decision and his passes always poor. We were OK without him. Let’s just fancy our chances against the Atlas Lions, but I tell you: we need to do more than enough to win that match. All the best.

  • Olumide oloye 2 years ago

    Okpotu very worst. The guy should leave football and go farm, to me oo he is not a player. Ali is too wasteful in d midfield his passes are awkward very poor from the player I like so much. Ajiboye should b on the plain to the world cup. His performance is A class

  • Olumide oloye 2 years ago

    The players performance generally is OK. Credit to the coach, a lot of improvement from the group games. Ajiboye is the best. Ezenwa should calm down.

  • ALFREDINHO 2 years ago

    The CHAN Eagles has problem scoring goals especially from Anthony Okpotu .There was no brilliant move from him for the duration of the game. The front line needs to be clinical against a good team like Morocco if not the Eagles can be punished in the finals for lackluster attitude towards goal scoring .