Two goals from Taiwo Awoniyi yesterday earned Nigeria qualification ticket to the 2015 All Africa Games male football event as the national Under-23 team, Dream Team VI, defeated Zambia 2-1 in Lusaka.
Awoniyi, top scorer at the African Youth Championship in Senegal with the Nigeria U-20 last month, scored in the 34th minute to put Nigeria on top at half time.
Zambia fought back gamely to equalise in the 76th minute through Friday Samu, but Nigeria made sure of joining Congo-Brazzaville, Sudan and Burkina Faso in the men’s football tournament of the 11th All-Africa Games when Awoniyi who has just been signed on by Esperance of Tunisia for $1.2million scored his second with four minutes to full time.
Both teams played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Abuja three weeks ago.
The Zambians who were banking on the advantage of not conceding any goal in the first leg in Nigeria attacked from the onset and carved several chances.
Daniel denied Zambia a second equalizer in the dying minutes of the explosive encounter as he tipped Moses Phiri’s effort over the bar for a corner.
Mukuka Mulenga and Shadreck Malambo were torn in Nigeria’s flesh and within the first 20 minutes they forced two corner kicks and several goal attempts.
In the 22nd minute, Sodiq Atanda Ololade almost put Nigeria ahead when his header off a corner kick flew wide.
A minute later, the Zambians were unlucky as an effort at goal came off the post.
In the 50th minute, Ronald Kampamba shot wide from close range.
In the 56th minute, goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel made a daring save off Samu’s strike to keep Nigeria ahead 1-0.
The second half was a different ball game as Nigeria got into the groove with Azubuike Okechukwu and Kingsley Sokari in control of the midfield.
Earlier on Saturday, Burkina Faso defeated Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 in Ouagadougou to seal the U-23 Stallions’ passage to the AAG. The Ivorians lost the first leg by the same 2-1 score-line in the first leg at home. Sudan is another country that has also booked their ticket to the eight-team competition in September.