Siasia hails Eagles’ players


Additional reports by Kelvin Omuojine

Samson Siasia has given the credit for Sunday's 2- 0 victory at Madagascar to his players.
The Super Eagles overcame atrocious playing conditions to triumph in the last 20 minutes with goals from skipper Joseph Yobo and a sensational effort from Obinna Nsofor (In pic)sealing a much-needed win.
But despite making a timely tactical switch to account for the bad turf, Siasia refused to take the credit
"I just want to say thank you to the players. They did very well because it is not easy playing under these kind of conditions.
"But they did not panic, they did not lose focus and they did everything we asked them to do, even when things were not going our way in the first half," Siasia said.
Captain Yobo again came up big, scoring the opening goal after 68 minutes, and his coach had plenty of praise for him
"He is a real leader. He was always there in the box for set pieces and corner kicks and he kept giving them problems with his ability in the air."
The victory took Nigeria level on points with group leaders Guinea, who play later in the day.
Nigeria went into the game knowing that the maximum three points was needed to stay on course for the African Nations Cup qualification.
The pitch was in a very poor state for a game at this level, so poor that one couldn't have expected to see free-flowing football from either side.
At kick-off it was the Nigerian side that got things underway. It was impossible for either side to settle into any rhythm as the bad pitch would not permit good football and Nigeria took the initiative in the 6th minute as a long ball was played for Nsofor to chase.
His run was halted by the referee's whistle for handball as he tried to control the ball with his chest.
A minute later the referee ignored a penalty appeal as Ikechukwu Uche went down under the challenge of two Madagascan defenders.
Ten minutes into the game and Madagascar attempted a long ball of their own and while the attacker raced towards it Efe Ambrose was there to calmly head the ball to Dele Aiyenugba in goal for Nigeria.
As the next ten minutes went by, Ahmed Musa showed a glimpse of his impressive form with good work to win a corner kick shortly before Yobo was called into defensive duty to clear for a throw-in to Madagascar.

However, there was a scare for Nigeria after 17 minutes as the ball bounced awkwardly and Yobo's back pass was too short, giving Madagascar the best chance in the half.
The effort was poor as the shot went wide without troubling the Nigerian goalkeeper. The reaction of the crowd showed that they had expected better.
Midway into the first half, Ikechukwu Uche scoffed a shot wide as the players found it hard to keep the ball on the ground.

With 15 minutes left until half-time, Nigerian coach, Samson Siasia stood in his technical area with his finger to his mouth.
A bit of tension was probable with Nigeria unable to fashion clear cut chances despite dominating possession.

Madagascar kicked off the second half and they tried to build on their good attacking spell from the latter part of the first half with good movement down the left flank.

The game had just clocked one hour when the hosts fashioned another good chance to take the lead.
Tigana's cross from the left was met by the boot of Yvan, but the captain's touch sent the ball over the bar.

As they grew in confidence, Madagascar had at least seven players in the Nigerian half.
66 minutes had gone by when Siasia brought on Fengor Ogude to replace Ikechukwu Uche.
A minute later there was another cross by Mikel from a corner kick. A defender failed to deal with it and the ball trickled towards Yobo who wasted no time in taking a shot and his left-footed effort made its way into the net, giving Nigeria the goal they desperately craved.
With twenty minutes left, Joel Obi made way for Chinedu Obasi who made his return to the team after his injury lay off.

It became more comfortable for Nigeria when Nsofor struck in the 72nd minute. His shot from outside the box sailed into the near post leaving the goalkeeper stranded and unable to move. With a two-goal lead, Siasia and his assistant could afford to share a celebratory hug in a manner which suggested that the job was done.
However, Madagascar came close to pulling one back immediately but again their finishing let them down.

The Super Eagles obviously had weight taken off their shoulders as they confidently exchanged passes in the face of their Barea counterparts. There were injury concerns for Anichebe and Emenike but there was no fear of losing the three points.
As the remainder of the match was played out, Madagascar managed the occasional wild shot while Anichebe holding up the ball. As the clock struck 90 minutes, Mikel's freekick from far out on the left flank nearly caught the goalkeeper off his line. Two minutes into injury time, Dele Aiyenugba stepped off his line to pick a cross from a corner kick out of the air.

Exactly three minutes into injury time, the referee blew the final whistle, with the Super Eagles celebrating a much needed win.
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