African Cup Roundup, Jan. 20
World Cup qualifier Nigeria beat Mozambique 3-0 on Wednesday to
book its place in the knockout round of the African Cup of Nations,
while already-qualified Egypt maintained its perfect record with a
2-0 win over Benin to top Group C.
Peter Odemwingie opened the scoring just before halftime, creating plenty of space after taking a Dickson Etuhu pass before hitting a powerful shot low into the corner of the net. He then made it 2-0 from close range after being set up by Aiyegbeni Yakubu. Substitute Obafemi Martins scored the third four minutes from time from a rebound after an initial shot by Jon Obi Mikel.
"The team played according to instruction," Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu said. "We are satisfied with the win but we haven't won the tournament yet."
Nigeria finished second in Group C with six points, three behind defending champion Egypt, which beat Benin 2-0 in the other group game.
Egypt will play the runner-up in Group D while Nigeria faces the winner.
Gabon leads Group D with four points, one ahead of Cameroon. But both third-placed Tunisia and fourth-placed Zambia can still qualify.
Amodu said he was prepared to face any of the qualifying teams.
In Benguela, Ahmed Al Muhammadi and Emad Motaeb were on target as defending champion Egypt picked up its third straight victory and extended its unbeaten run in the tournament to 15 games.
Defender Al Muhammadi scored Egypt's first after just seven minutes when his cross surprisingly beat Benin goalkeeper Yohann Djidonou. Motaeb then doubled Egypt's lead after he pounced on a rebound and smashed the ball home in the 23rd.
Wednesday's win enabled Nigeria to join three other World Cup-bound sides Algeria, Ivory Coast and Ghana in the quarterfinals.
Cameroon, which has also qualified for the World Cup in South Africa, needs to beat Tunisia on Thursday to join the quartet.
"Nigeria is a team full of quality," Mozambique's Dutch coach Mart Nooij said. "They were the better team. They played with a lot of confidence."
Facing the prospect of failing to reach the last eight for the first time since 1982, Nigeria wasted plenty of chances in the opening minutes.
Nigeria's first attempt on goal came in the eighth minute when Hoffenheim's Chinedu Obasi almost punished a weak defensive clearance by Mozambique, but his shot was saved by Kapango.
There were further chances for Obasi and Odemwingie, who both went close for Nigeria before Odemwingie finally broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime when he fired a low, hard shot past Kapango.