By IKENNA OKAFOR, Cape town, south africa
Compensation finally came the way of the home based Super Eagles as they struggled to a bronze medal at the 2014 African Nations Championship after a hard-fought 1-0 win over the 10-men of Zimbabwe in Cape Town on Saturday. Chinonso Obiozor scored the only goal of the third-place playoff in the final five minutes as the Super Eagles labored past their stubborn opponents.
Zimbabwe were dealt an early blow when midfielder Masimba Mambare was shown a deserved red card for a high boot into the shoulder of Nigeria goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim and the Warriors had to play 72 minutes with 10 men.
It was not a game that reached any great heights as a spectacle, both coaches giving a run to some fringe players in this final game of the tournament.
Goal-scoring chances were few and far between, but the better ones fell to Nigeria with Simba Sithole’s shot straight at Agbim the only effort on target for Zimbabwe in the game.
Obiozor, playing his first match of the competition, looked a constant threat with his pace and power and having come close on a number of occasions, finally got his reward on 85 minutes.
Ejike Uzoenyi’s centre from the right-hand side was beautifully headed home by Obiozor.
Nigeria’s advantage was never seriously threatened after that and they were able to hold on for the bronze medal to go with the gold they won at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa a year ago.