World Cup Qualifier: Iwobi, Iheanacho Sink Zambia | Independent Newspapers Limited
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World Cup Qualifier: Iwobi, Iheanacho Sink Zambia

Alex Iwobi
Posted: Oct 10, 2016 at 4:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Peter Edema

Lagos – Super Eagles youngsters, Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho, justified the confidence Coach Genrot Rohr placed on them as they were on target as Nigeria began the 2018 World Cup qualifying tournament on winning note, beating Zambia 2-1 on Sunday in Ndola.

The win is the first time Nigeria will beat Zambia away and this would be Chipolopolo’s first loss at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

And this is also Super Eagles first win in a competitive away match since November 2014, when goals by Ikechukwu Uche and Aaron Samuel earned Nigeria a 2-1 win over Congo in Pointe Noire, in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Hoping to make Nigeria’s Europe –based players uncomfortable with an early afternoon star, the Chipolopolo got a boost when President Edgar Lungu stormed the venue to lead the support.

But Super Eagles did not allow the weather to affect them as they got their two goals in the first half, while Zambia pulled one back in the second stanza.

Iwobi was gifted the ball in the area by Zambian defender, Adrian Chana, who headed back a Nigeria throw in, in the 33rd minute. He unleashed a right footer that Goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene parried into his goal.

Iheanacho doubled the lead on 43rd minute after he got a through pass from Mikel Obi; he then rounded up Mweene, before slotting home for Eagles’ second.

Before Eagles got their second goal, Zambia could have levelled the match on 40th minute when Captain Rainford Kalaba headed home inside the six yards box only for Carl Ikeme to come to the team’s rescue.
But they pulled one back in the 70th minute through Collins Mbesuma, who capitalised on a blunder inside the box by Kenneth Omeruo.

Instead for Omeruo to clear the ball at the first instance, he headed the ball but was picked up by Mbesuma, who wasted no time in blasting the ball past Ikeme.

The story could have been different if not for Ikeme’s excellent reflexes. He made some point blank saves.

As early as third minute, Ikeme parried dangerous Zambia cross from the right into a corner, the first in the match. In the 40th minute, he blocked a Kalaba header on the line. In the 60th minute, he was also on hand to block another goal bound shot.

NFF President Amaju Pinnick said: “We commend the efforts of the players and the technical crew, and we thank the Honourable Minister of Sports for his words of encouragement before the match. We are happy with the three points but it is a marathon, not a sprint.

“We still have five matches to play. We will take it one match at a time. Next stop is ‘Operation Beat Algeria.’”

The Eagles next play Algeria in Uyo on 12th November.