CALABAR: Nigeria and Ivory Coast became the first African sides to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ after aggregate successes over Ethiopia and Senegal respectively.
Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over Ethiopia in Calabar confirmed a 4-1 aggregate play-off win.
Victor Moses coolly slotted home a first half penalty before substitute Victor Obinna slammed home a late free-kick to see Nigeria through to their fifth World Cup finals in six attempts.
Efe Ambrose had the first Nigerian shot in the opening moments after Brown Ideye had broken into the Ethiopian penalty area, but the Celtic defender’s effort was wild and high. Sisay Bancha then produced a wonderful double save after a seemingly innocuous throw-in by Ahmed Musa reached Emmanuel Emenike in space inside the Ethiopia penalty area. His shot was stopped and Moses’ follow up was turned behind for a corner by the Ethiopia No1.
The game then turned in Nigeria’s favour as Musa received the ball on the Nigeria left and attempted a cross. Aynalem Hailu – the defender who conceded a last-minute penalty in Addis Ababa – jumped to block and was adjudged to have handled the ball.
Moses stepped up, and scored an almost identical penalty to Emenike’s first leg effort, passing the ball into the bottom right-hand corner and sending Bancha the wrong way.
It was Moses’ third penalty against Ethiopia in 2013, having scored two spot kicks against the Waliya Antelopes at this year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Ogenyi Onazi then received the ball on the Nigeria right and whipped in a cross to the back post, but Ideye headed wide of the goal. The two combined again just before the interval, with Onazi’s shot from distance parried by Bancha, and Ideye hitting his follow-up over the bar.
The second half continued to move along at a relaxed pace, until Obinna’s late free kick. The Lokomotiv Moscow forward curled his right-footed effort past Bancha, who should really have done better with the set piece.
As the rain began to hammer down towards the end, the Ethiopians’ mood matched the miserable weather, but the hosts did not care. They danced jubilantly and joined the crowd in celebration on the final whistle as their thoughts turned to next summer’s carnival of football in Brazil.
As for Ivory Coast, they survived a dominant Senegal display to force a 1-1 draw in Casablanca and secure their place in Brazil.
Sabri Lamouchi’s men had won the first leg 3-1, Papiss Cisse’s stoppage-time goal keeping the tie alive, and after a host of Senegalese chances in the second leg, substitute Moussa Sow’s penalty set up a barnstorming finale.
But the Ivory Coast drew the sting from the game and Salomon Kalou’s 94th-minute goal secured qualification.