Odemwingie puts Nigeria through
The flank midfielder from Lokomotiv Moscow was given time and space in the final minute of the opening half at Tundavala Stadium in southern Angola to rifle a low shot past goalkeeper Joao Rafael at his near post. And the veteran of four Nations Cup campaigns scored a far simpler goal two minutes into the second half as he tapped in a cross from captain Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
A memorable match for Odemwingie was completed midway through the second half when Everton striker Yakubu was substituted by injury-troubled Obafemi Martins and the matchwinner became stand-in skipper of the Super Eagles. Odemwingie said: "I'm happy for the team. We had a lot of pressure on us, but since the start of the competition we have made daily progress, from the goalkeepers to the strikers."
Under-fire Nigeria coach Shuaibu Amodu added: "My job is to do a good CAN - I can't avoid the critics. I'm happy that the boys were able to deliver the goods. As for our next rivals let me enjoy this victory today before speaking about Cameroon or any other team." Mozambique coach Maart Nooij commented: "I can't be disappointed, my players gave everything they had to give. We arrived here with our heads held high, and we're leaving with our heads held high."
Victory for Nigeria and an equally predictable 2-0 triumph for defending champions Egypt over Benin in Benguela at the same time brought a predictable climax to Group C of the biennial African football showcase.
Egypt topped the table with nine points after comfortable victories over all three pool opponents as they seek a record third consecutive Nations Cup title having won at home in 2006 and in Ghana two years ago.
Nigeria recovered from a 3-1 opening-match loss to Egypt with wins over the minnows to collect six points while Benin and Mozambique brought up the rear with a solitary point each on the final standings. Who the Pharaohs and the Super Eagles face in the 25 January quarter-finals will be decided on Thursday when Gabon, Cameroon, Tunisia and Zambia fight to finish first and second in Group D.
Egypt will face the pool runners-up at Ombaka Stadium in Benguela early next Monday with Nigeria remaining in Lubango to face the Group D winners later and surprise packets Gabon occupy top spot after two rounds.
Nigeria, needing a draw to clinch a last-eight place, looked the more threatening side in the opening half at a sparsely-populated 20,000-seat stadium and Chinedu Obasi missed a sitter midway through. The Germany-based striker, a last-minute inclusion in the squad, headed at Rafael from a few metres when seemingly certain to break the deadlock in a match that seldom rose above the pedestrian.
Mozambique pushed the ball around impressively and Martinho Paito Mucana stung the hands of Nigeria goalkeeper Victor Enyeama with a long-range effort that brought a good parried save. Martins completed the scoring five minutes from full-time when he pounced on a rebound to drive the ball low into the far corner after Rafael failed to grasp a close-range Mikel shot.