Nigeria Hold Ethiopia In Nations Cup Qualifier

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria managed to play 2-2 with Ethiopia’s Wayla Antelopes this evening, and earned a point to stay in contention for a place in the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Real Zaragoza’s Ike Uche shocked the hosts when he netted Nigeria’s opener deep in the first half through a pass from racy winger Ahmed Musa.

The Nigerian team only held the lead for a few minutes as the Ethiopians equalised through Saladin Seid with about four minutes left in the half to leave scores at 1-1.

The second half was barely five minutes old when Seid capitalised on a defensive error by Efe Ambrose and shot Ethiopia to the lead with a second goal.

But, luck smiled on the Eagles when skipper Joseph Yobo scored a last minute equaliser for Nigeria to end the match 2-2 at the Addis Ababa national stadium.

Despite boasting that the Eagles team, which thrashed Argentina 4-1 in an international friendly last week, will do the same in Addis Ababa, Coach Samson Siasia’s squad struggled to escape defeat from the Ethiopians, whom Nigeria mauled 4-0 in the reverse fixture played in Abuja in March this year.

The introduction of Warri Wolves’ Ekhigo Ehiosun and Victor Anichebe of Everton in the second half salvaged the day for the Nigerian side, as they piled pressure on their hosts until the end of the tough encounter.

Former Zimbabwe and Namibia manager Tom Saintfiet from Belgium led the Wayla Antelopes against Nigeria in today’s encounter, which increased the Eagles’ points to seven from four matches.

Saintfiet replaced the former Nigerian-born coach, Iffy Onuora, who was sacked last month over what the Ethiopia FA called “dismissal on disciplinary grounds”.

The Antelopes maintain their third position with four points in Group B behind Nigeria and three behind surprise leaders Guinea, who have seven points with an outstanding match against Madagascar tonight.
In another qualifying match, Ivory Coast defeated Benin 3-0, while Mali lost 2-1 to Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the weekend ended on a very sad note for Nigeria, as the Coach Austin Eguavoen-led U-23 Eagles lost 0-1 to Tanzania in a London 2012 Olympic Games qualifying match.

Nigeria’s senior team are currently being probed by FIFA over an alleged match-fixing in the friendly against Argentina in Abuja last week.

By Tunde Oyedele