Day 21 - Nigeria again finished third at the CAF Africa Cup of nations, taking bronze with a 1-0 win over Algeria at the Ombaka National Stadium in Benguela. The Super Eagles have now ended up in third place in four of the last five of the biennial tournaments.
The last time the Super Eagles made it to the continental final was when they were co-host of the 2000 event. Algeria will be content with their best placing since winning the 1990 edition, which they hosted.
These two teams haven't met at full international level since 2005 when Nigeria again won, in that instance by a wider margin of 5-2 in a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier. Both sides will compete in the World Cup in South Africa this summer, with Algeria in Group C alongside England, the USA and Slovenia while Nigeria will face Argentina, Korea Republic and Greece in Group B.
Nigeria 1-0 Algeria (Nsofor 55’)
Goal of the day
Nigeria 1-0 Algeria, Victor Obinna Nsofor (55’)
The rewards of running at opposing defences were finally realised by Nigeria at the Nations Cup in Angola through the strength and grace of Obinna Nsofor, who ensured them the only goal of the day in the third place play-off. It was a finely taken chance with Nsofor reacting quickest after defender Slimane Raho failed to properly clear a blocked effort from long range from Nwankwo Kanu. The 22-year-old put his head down and showed a burst of pace to glide his way past two defenders and sweep the ball wide of the goalkeeper with a fine left foot finish.
Nigeria might have taken the lead some six minutes before they actually made a breakthrough, but Nsofor squandered a glorious opportunity. A stinging free-kick from Taye Taiwo proved too hot to handle for goalkeeper Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche, deputising for the suspended Faouzi Chaouchi. It bounced up off his body straight at the unmarked Nsofor, but instead of a simple header into the open net, he tried to side foot the waste-high ball, serving only to stub it back down into the ground and then up and off the crossbar. There was even another chance as it fell into the six-year box, but the goalkeeper was able to get to it first and smother any further chances for the Super Eagles.
A cameo from a veteran
Nwankwo Kanu is more of a squad player for Nigeria these days, but the two-time African Player of the Year was handed the captain’s armband and given a berth in the starting line-up for the play-off game. He played the role of a link man in midfield, still able to dazzle with his swift feet. He also fired in a dangerous left-footed shot that was Nigeria’s best effort of the first half. Kanu made a name at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Japan in 1993 and has been ever-present since in Nigeria’s various national team squads including two FIFA World Cup finals appearances and now a sixth CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Saturday’s appearance was likely his last at the continental championship, but the Portsmouth player may still have the FIFA World Cup in mid-year to look forward to.
Benguela’s night sky
The Ombaka National Stadium is an imposing treasure in the midst of a dusty landscape between Benguela and its sister town of Lobito. On Saturday as the second half progressed, dusk settled over the African plains and a purple sunset shone down on the venue, almost in tribute to the nine games played there and to the fine turn out by the locals in support of the event.
4 – The number of CAF Africa Cup of Nations bronze medals won by Nigerian defender Joseph Yobo. Although did not play much at the Angola tournament because of a hamstring injury he was again on the podium to pick up another bronze to add to his already considerable collection.
What they said
"We played six high-level matches. We spotted our mistakes and this was a good preparation for the World Cup. And it’s always better to leave with a prize." Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu after winning the bronze medal.
Ghana - Egypt (31 Jan. 16:00 GMT)
Have your say
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