By Joy Okosieme
The Super Eagles returned to Lagos from Benin Republic on Sunday afternoon, savouring the victory over the Squirrels that shot them to an unassailable 11 points in their 2021 AFCON qualifying group and looking forward to a colourful houseparty against the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Tuesday.
Substitute Paul Onuachu’s last-gasp bullet header secured all the points, restored the Nigeria team’s winning mentality and condemned Benin Republic to a dogfight with the Leone Stars in their own encounter in Freetown on Tuesday.
A brace by Victor Osimhen and one each by Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze steered the Eagles to a 4-2 win over the Crocodiles when both teams met in Maseru 16 months ago. Nkoto Masoabi rose highest in-between two Nigerian defenders to nod powerfully past Daniel Akpeyi in the 11th minute before Nigeria, stung into action, pumped four goals past goalkeeper Moerane Sekhoane. An own goal by defender Chidozie Awaziem gave the scoreline a semblance of respectability for the hosts.
The Confederation of African Football has picked Cape Verde official Fabricio Duarte to take charge of proceedings as referee with his compatriots Jorge Correia Semedo Helio (assistant 1), Delgado Fernandes Wilson Jorge (assistant referee 2) and Antonio Manuel Fortes Tony Rodrigues (fourth official) also on duty. The match commissioner is Haruna Mawanda from Uganda while Nick Owusu from Ghana will serve as security officer. Alex Kotey, also from Ghana, will be referees’ assessor.
The Crocodiles’ delegation will fly into Nigeria on Monday morning. The match commissioner and referees arrived in Nigeria on Sunday, while the security officer and referees’ assessor have been in Lagos since Saturday.
Lesotho, who bravely held Sierra Leone to a scoreless draw in Maseru on Saturday but are no longer in the running for a ticket to Cameroon, will have their official training at the Teslim Balogun Stadium on Monday evening by 5pm