Nigeria on Sunday, October 9, began the quest for a place in the 2018 FIFA World Cup on a bright start with a 2-1 away win against Zambia.
Gernot Rohr’s side triumphed courtesy of first half goals from Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho. The victory was Nigeria’s first ever away win against the Chipolopolo.
The Super Eagles went ahead in the 33rd minute when the Zambian defence failed to deal with a Nigerian throw-in. The
advantage fell kindly to Arsenal youngster Iwobi, who still had the onerous task of quickly and deftly readjusting his body
positioning to volley home from the edge of the box.
Ten minutes later, it was 2-0 to the Eagles. Some neat interplay in the Eagles attack sent Iheanacho through on
goal, and the Manchester City striker duly dribbled goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. The ball looked destined to roll out
for a goal kick but Iheanacho retrieved it and slotted home from an acute angle, despite the best efforts of two
Zambia returned from the half-time break a far improved side, and it was only a matter of time before Collins
Mbesuma pulled one back for the hosts in the 71st minute — Kenneth Omeruo the culprit for fumbling what seemed an
innocuous cross, allowing the Mpumalanga Black Aces of South Africa striker steal the ball and ram home a shot
beyond the reach and sight of the outstanding Carl Ikeme.
It had been an all-Zambia affair for those 26 minutes of the second half, and the scoreline could as well have been
4-2 in favour of Zambia were it not for Ikeme’s many reflex saves, some even pointblank.
Rohr responded by bringing on Genk of Belgium’s Anderson Esiti in place of Brown Ideye. Nigeria subsequently took
control of the match and despite the Chipolopolo steal managing to open up the Eagles defence, the home side never
really looked like equalising.
The result sees Nigeria move top of the group — at least until Algeria and Camerooon, the other sides in the group,
face off in Algiers later on Sunday night.
The Super Eagles are next in action on November 7, when they face Algeria, Africa’s highest-ranked side at home.