By Sandra Birungi
Nigeria has managed to go to the 5th part of the semi finals as the African Cup of Nations heat up.
Nigeria beat Ivory Coast 2-1 with the first goal scored by Emmanuel Emenike of Super Eagles just before half-time when he was offered a free kick in the 27th minute. However, it was not long before Ivory Coast’s midfielder, Chieck Tiote equaled the score by scoring their first goal in the first minutes of the second half. A header from Didier Drogba gave Tiote a chance to kick the ball right into Nigeria’s net equaling the score, 1-1.
Ivory Coast received a lot of chances to score a second goal with the help of their players but Nigeria’s defense was hard to penetrate.
Sunday Mba sealed Nigeria’s win just twelve minutes from time after he passed three Ivorians before netting the ball.
The win has seen Nigeria come through Group C with a win and two draws this month and then beat a side that the coach called “the top team on the continent.”
“Ivory Coast are the top team on the continent with lots of quality, so we tried to speed up and try to catch out players like Drogba and Yaya Toure. I’m glad my team is progressing in every game — there is great discipline in the team and I just hope we keep going that way,” Stephen Keshi said.
Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi took responsibility for his team’s loss saying, “I put forward the team I judged to be the best to pose problems to a good Nigeria side,” said the Frenchman, who took over after last year’s penalty shootout defeat in the final against Zambia. Of course our aim was to win the title, and for certain players this could be their last chance so, yes, there is disappointment in the dressing room. It’s a great sadness for me as the players were working with one objective — to win this Nations Cup — but it proved not to be enough.”
This win sees Nigeria come close the AFCON finals. Nigeria last won the AFCON in 1994, a year the team reached fifth in the world rankings — the highest by any African nation and has since then failed to settle for three third placings between 2002-10, and didn’t even qualify for last year’s tournament.