Super Eagles is set to meet South Africa on Wednesday in a quarter final bout, after beating the defending champions, Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in 3-2 match at the Alexandria stadium.
In a swift message, President Muhammadu Buhari sent his congratulations to the Super Eagles for advancing to the quarter finals in the ongoing African Cup of Nations in Egypt after a notable victory over Cameroun.
The president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said Buhari recognised the hardwork, team spirit and sportsmanship that Eagles demonstrated in the tournament, describing it as good signs for a team destined to excel.
The statement added that with yet more hurdles to scale before attaining the final victory, the president urged the players and their handlers to remain focused and determined, assuring them of the fervent prayers and support of all Nigerians.
In a match which will be remembered as one of the best the in the tournament so far but it was the Super Eagles who started on a front foot and opened score in the 20th minute after a brilliant pass from captain Ahmed Musa.
The Nigerian team looked the more proactive and threatening team early on had the chance to double the lead but the Cameroonian gradually came into the match and showed they have more to offer in the first half.
Cameroon pushed the Nigerian side back and wit Clinton N’Jie and Christian Bassogog more into the game, but the wide men initially had little joy against Nigeria’s fullbacks Ola Aina and Chidozie Awaziem.
But after a sustained spell of pressure, the Indomitable Lions hit back to level the game in the 41stminute. Bassogog whipped in a cross from the left and Stephane Bahoken, with almost his first contribution of any note, expertly turned the ball home for 1-1.
Super Eagles were then stunned with another goal concession three minutes later. Bahoken flicked on a long ball and N’Jie showed good speed and strength to hold off a challenge before striking a low shot past Daniel Akpeyi to send Cameroon into the interval with a 2-1 lead.
N’Jie almost forced a third goal early in the second half, with his low cross from the right of the penalty area deflecting off Aina and heading toward goal, but Akpeyi did well to quickly change direction and claw the ball away.
Nigeria equalised just past the hour mark, with Ighalo again getting on the score sheet. This time Awaziem provided a fine cross from the right and Ahmed Musa cleverly chested the ball into space for the striker, who turned and fired home a left-footed shot for 2-2.
And Ighalo soon went from scorer to creator, playing a lovely pass through the legs of MichaelNgaedu-Ngadjui to find the run of Alex Iwobi, who hit a low shot past goalkeeper Andre Onana to make it 3-2 to the Super Eagles in the 66th minute.
Ighalo had a great chance to complete a hat-trick in the 76th minute when a low cross from substitute Samuel Chukwueze found the striker unmarked in the penalty area, but his shot was palmed away by Onana to keep Cameroon in the contest.
However, there was no way back for the 2017 champions, allowing Nigeria through to a quarterfinal against either hosts Egypt or South Africa in Cairo on Wednesday night.
Nigeria 3 (Ighalo 20’ 63’, Iwobi 66’)
Cameroon 2 (Bahoken 41’, N’Jie 44’)
Nigeria: Akpeyi, Awaziem, Omeruo, Troost-Ekong, Aina, Ndidi, Etebo, Musa, Iwobi (Balogun 90+1’), Simon (Chukwueze 60’), Ighalo (Onuachu 85’)
Cameroon: Onana, Fai, Ngaedu-Ngadjui, Yaya, Oyongo, Bassogog, Malong (Zoua 87’), Mandjeck(Zambo Anguissa 62’), N’Jie (Ekambi 70’), Choupo-Moting, Bahoken.