Ekigho Ehiosun confirmed he is an African star in the making by scoring one goal and creating two as Nigeria downed Tanzania 3-0 at the weekend in a 2012 London Olympics qualifier.
The 22-year-old striker from the Warri Wolves club missed a shock 1-0 first leg loss in the third round tie two weeks ago because he was on senior national team duty in Ethiopia.
But coach Austin Eguavoen hastily recalled him for the return match in Benin City and Ehiosun took a mere three minutes to break the deadlock, powerfully heading a Lukman Haruna corner into the net for his fifth goal of the qualifying campaign.
Leading Tanzania scorer Thomas Ulimwengu troubled the home team for the rest of the first half with the second-round conquerors of Cameroon proving no pushovers despite Eguavoen promising to bury them under a goal avalanche.
It took some more Ehiosun magic nine minutes after half-time to nudge the Nigerians ahead on aggregate as he carved an opening and Gani Oseni had the simple task of tapping the ball over the line.
Ulimwengu remained a threat and it was not until stoppage time that Nigeria put the overall outcome beyond doubt when Ehiosun dribbled past four opponents and Ahmed Musa applied the finishing touch.
"I am very happy with my performance and that of the team. Hopefully we can do even better in the next round and put more smiles on the faces of our supporters," said Ehiosun.
Eight teams remain
Nigeria will be joined in the mini-league final qualifying phase during December by Algeria, Egypt, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal and South Africa, with one of the eight survivors hosting the tournament.
Teenage striker Malick Evouna was the Gabonese hero as he took advantage of poor positioning by Mali goalkeeper Adama Keita to score the only goal of the tie direct from a free-kick 25 minutes into extra time.
Bongani Ndulula struck twice as South Africa shrugged off the absence of many first choices to beat Benin 5-1 and overcome a two-goal first leg loss, while Côte d'Ivoire completed a 'double' over Congo with a 1-0 win in Abidjan.
Hamdallah helps Morocco
Egypt slayed giant-killers Sudan 2-0 in Alexandria after a goalless first leg and an early second-half goal from Abdoulaye Sane for Senegal in Dakar was the only one of a tight tie against Tunisia.
The goals of Moroccan Abderrazak Hamdallah proved decisive in a 3-2 aggregate win over Congo DR as he snatched the first-leg winner in stoppage time and a superb late return-match equaliser.
Algeria lost 2-0 in Zambia and had captain Brahim Boudebouda sent off with ten minutes left for kicking an oppponent, but the North Africans still celebrated at the final whistle having built a three-goal advantage at home.