Nigeria today qualified for next year’s CHAN in Kenya when they defeated Benin 2-0 to overturn a 1-0 loss they suffered in Cotonou a week ago.
The home-based Eagles thus scaled through to CHAN 2018 2-1 on aggregate.
Skipper and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa ensured the home team’s qualification when he kept out a 65th minute penalty by the Benin captain Mama Seibou, who incidentally beat him from the spot in Cotonou a week ago.
Before then, Rabiu Ali put Nigeria ahead after 37 minutes courtesy of a smart assist by Alhassan Ibrahim ‘Muazzam’.
Chima Akas then had a his goal-bound free kick just before the break come off the post with the Benin goalkeeper well beaten.
The Eagles doubled their lead just two minutes into the second half with a flying header by the impressive Kingsley Eduwo of Lobi Stars who lifted very high to nod past the goalkeeper of Benin from a clever cross into the box by Osas Okoro.
Coach Salisu Yusuf made his first substitute on 60 minutes by replacing the fumbling Samuel Mathias with Sikiru Olatunbosun to add more vibe to the Eagles attack.
Five minutes later, Ezenwa rescued the Nigeria by stopping a game-defining penalty after the referee awarded a spot kick to Benin after he claimed that Stephen Eze had blocked a goal bound strike by Benin striker with his hand.
Ezenwa did well to stop the penalty kick.
The young Benin team fought very hard to come back into the game but were repelled by the Eagles thereafter.
CHAN EAGLES Start list vs Benin (4-4-2): Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Skipper) – Chima Akas, Osas Okoro, Stephen Eze, Emmanuel Ariwachukwu – Ifeanyi Ifeanyi (Rapheal Ayagwa 66), Samuel Matthias (Sikiru Olatunbosun 60), Alhassan Ibrahim ‘Muazzam’, Stephen Odey (Ifeanyi Geoge 75) – Rabiu Ali, Kingsley Eduwo
Coach Salisu Yusuf