South Africa bound Nigeria wallop Liberia

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Taiwo Adelu

The Nigerians promised to beat the Lone Star of Liberia silly in the qualification match today at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar, Southern Nigeria. The Liberians came with bagful of boasts as well, promising to halt the Eagles desire to be part of the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa in January. They even added that they did not fear the galaxy of stars in the Eagles squad.

At the end of regulation time, it was the Liberians that had to swallow their words. The Eagles fulfilled their promise. They really walloped the Liberians silly as Chelsea’s Mikel Obi promised. Scoreline was 6-1, the biggest margin in a game so far in the qualification series. In terms of aggregate score, Nigeria came second to Mali that beat Botswana 7-1. Nigeria made their own conquest 8-3.

Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi returned to international football with a goal as Nigeria overran ten-man Liberia.

It was Mikel’s first appearance for Nigeria in a year and under Stephen Keshi since he took charge in November 2011.

Efe Ambrose, Ahmed Musa, Ikechukwu Uche and a double from Victor Moses saw off the Liberians, who got a consolation from Patrick Wleh.

After a minute of silence for the grieving families of the Mubi massacre, undergraduates killed in Aluu and flood victims, it was the Nigerians who took the initiative with an early goal.

On 58 seconds, Celtic defender, Ambrose rose highest to nod away from Moses’ free kick.

Liberia’s Lone Star came back fighting with Zah Kranger firing Tonia Tisdell’s cross from the left channel wide on three minutes.

Kaetu Smith’s Lone Star continued to push for an equaliser and came close on 34 minutes when Sekou Jabateh Oliseh’s shot from 25 yards was tipped away by Nigeria’s Vincent Enyeama for a corner.

But four minutes later, Musa squeezed his way into the six-yard box to side-foot home Nigeria’s second goal from Emmanuel Emenike’s low cross.

Just before the break, Nosa Igiebor missed the chance to put Nigeria three-nil up from six yards via Musa’s corner kick.

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The Super Eagles were ruthless in the business end of the game, as Igiebor set up Moses out of nothing and the Chelsea man made no error by shooting it in hard and low after an initial clearance by the Liberians.

Inside six minutes of the restart, Igiebor won a spot kick after the Liberian goalkeeper, Nathaniel Sherman upended him in the box.

The often vilified Mikel, who had a banner in his support in the stands at the UJ Esuene Stadium screaming ‘Mikel Obi the pride of Nigeria,’ made no mistake by converting the spot kick for his team’s fourth goal.

Nigeria took charge of the game from there but on 68 minutes, Liberia had a chance but instead their captain, George Gebro opted for a simulation and was sent off by South African referee, Daniel Bennett.

Four minutes later, substitute Ikechukwu Uche scored by slipping the ball underneath Sherman after a pass from Musa on the edge of the box.

The Super Eagles then resorted to show-boating before Patrick Wleh got the better of centre-back Azubuike Egwuekwe to poke the ball past Enyeama for the Lone Star’s consolation.

SS Lazio man, Ogenyi Onazi missed the chance to get a debut goal by shooting horribly off target from inside the box.

But Nigeria capped a fine day in the office with a goal made in Chelsea as Moses nodded the ball past a stranded Sherman from Mikel’s perfect cross in the 87th minute to make it six.

The result sends Stephen Keshi’s men to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa on 8-3 aggregate, to make it the third nation the former Nigerian international will guide to the Nations Cup after Togo and Mali.

Mr Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles coach said after the match that he was satisfied with the standard of play of his team though there are some areas that needed to be improved upon. “We have been training in Calabar for the past one week in order for us to blend our game and get used to the weather, the Liberians were busy chasing shadows and came here at midnight last night- they never trained here so got what they deserved but I must commend their determination”.

Keshi said the next phase of the teams preparation for the Cup of Nations is to put the boys together through friendly games in readiness for the finals in january in South Africa.

Scorers: Nigeria 6 (Ambrose 1, Musa 38, Moses 48, 88, Mikel 50-pen, Uche 72) Liberia 1 (Wleh 80)