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Super Eagles ease past Seychelles to end AFCON Qualifiers on a high

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Friday eased passed Seychelles 3-1 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium as they ended their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on a commendable note.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Friday eased passed Seychelles 3-1 at the Stephen Keshi Stadium as they ended their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on a commendable note.

Nigeria are 143 places above the Seychelles in the world rankings, but needed a last-minute Moses Simon goal to seal a 3-1 home win in a Group E dead-rubber.

After Odion Ighalo converted a penalty for the Super Eagles, Rody Melanie equalised before halftime when goalkeeper Francis Uzoho fumbled a free-kick in Asaba.

Henry Onyekuru put Nigeria ahead again on 50 minutes, punishing slack marking to nod a cross into the net.

But despite an overwhelming superiority in possession, the home team had to wait a further 40 minutes before substitute Simon beat goalkeeper Ian Han Kong at his near post.

Winning assured Nigeria of first place in the group and South Africa will also go to Egypt provided they avoid defeat away to Libya on Sunday.

William Troost-Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo were the preferred pair at the centre-back partners, with Leon Balogun who is just returning from injury, sitting all through on the bench.

Also, Shehu Abdullahi regained his right-back spot after missing out on the previous games through injury.

Galatasaray winger Onyekuru made his full international debut in a competitive tie, replacing the unavailable Samuel Kalu on the right wing of a 4-3-3 formation – with Odion Ighalo leading the line.

The Super Eagles tried unsuccessfully to break Seychelles team for over a half-hour, but a respite came when Jude Nancy fell Wilfred Ndidi in the box and the referee pointed to the spot.

Ighalo took the resulting kick and he sent Ha Kong the wrong way to net his seventh goal of the qualifying series.

The Super Eagles almost got another goal when Oghenakro Etebo expertly played a free-kick just outside the Seychelles box but the keeper parried the ball to safety.

Against all odds, Rody Melanie levelled for Gavin Jeanne’s side after Uzoho’s howler, from an indirect free kick, gifted the visitors their second goal in qualifying.

Five minutes after the restart, Henry Onyekuru finally got his name of the scorer’s sheet as Nigeria got back in front.

In the 65th minute, Paul Onuachu was handed his debut, with Etebo making way as Rohr reshuffled things. Also, Rotherham United midfielder Semi Ajayi was also brought in for Alex Iwobi.

Ighalo made way for Simon late in the game after falling badly and the Levante winger took the chance as he scored to make the tie end 3-1.

The Super Eagles end the qualifiers with 13 points wining 4 matches, drawing one and losing one.  

Next up for Nigeria is an international friendly against Egypt on Tuesday at the same Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba.

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