By Bunmi Ogunyale
Former African champions, Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Tuesday extended their winning streak in the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a 2-1 away win over Cape Verde.
Dylan Tavares put the hosts ahead after 19 minutes, but for Victor Osimhen to find the equalizer ten minutes later. A bizarre own goal from Kenny Rocha Santos 14 minutes from time gifted Nigeria a vital away win.
Despite seeing the hosts having most of the possession at the opening minutes, the first chance fell to Nigeria, when skipper Ahmed Musa received a cross inside the area, but his shot went high after five minutes.
But it was Cape Verde who opened the scoring after 19 minutes. A long pass from their own half found Dylan Tavares who sent a first time shot with his left foot behind Maduka Okoye to give the Blue Sharks the lead.
Cape Verde goalkeeper Vezinha was alert to stop Chidera Ejuke effort from the edge of the area after 27 minutes, with the Super Eagles trying to find the equalizer before the break.
And they got what they wanted a couple of minutes later. Defender Kelvin Pires tried to clear a cross from Jamilu Collins, but was about to score in his own net but for Vezinha save. The rebound ball found Victor Osimhen who scored easily to restore parity for Nigeria.
Vezinha once again was the hero for Cape Verde just before halftime. Musa’s corner caused a scramble inside the area, and Cape Verde goalkeeper saved Osimhen tap from three yards away, as the first half ended 1-1.
After the break, Nigeria enjoyed more possession but without posing a real threat to their hosts, who sat back depending on counter attacks.
They came closest after 73 minutes when substitute Henry Onyekuru shot from the edge of the area was safely handled by Vezinha.
But the visitors took the lead after 76 minutes in a bizarre way.
From 30 meters away, Kenny Rocha Santos tried to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper, but it was a high pass that wronged Vezinha and crossed the goal line to give Nigeria the lead.
Substitute Vagner Dias could have saved a point for Cape Verde two minutes from time, but his header from a close range went just wide, as Nigeria held to their win to reach maximum points.
igeria leads Group C with six points from two games ahead of Liberia with three points while Cape Verde and Central African Republic have one point apiece.
Nigeria will shift their attention to next month’s double-header clash against CAR with the aim of extending their dominance in the group while Cape Verde have a date with Liberia in October.