The immediate past Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Hon. Sunday Dare has congratulated the Super Eagles of Nigeria for their qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals, to be hosted by Ivory Coast.
Nigeria sealed the AFCON ticket with a 3-2 victory over the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone, who hosted the penultimate tie of the qualifiers, in Monrovia, capital of Liberia.
In-form Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen scored a first half brace to put Nigeria two goals up, but Sierra Leone pegged back the Super Eagles, before Kelechi Iheanacho scored a late-winner to seal the win for Nigeria.
With the victory, Nigeria regained top spot in Group A with 12-points, dethroning Guinea Bissau, who are now second with 10 points, but have also gone through to the 2023 AFCON finals in Ivory Coast.
In his reaction to the feat, Dare described the game as a ‘tough match on a plastic pitch’ that made it a bit difficult for players of both sides, who are used to better turfs.
“But at the end of the day we won, which is very vital, the most important thing is that the boys have qualified for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire, with a game to spare. I say a very big congratulations to the players, coaching crew and supporters of the national team, across the country,” Hon. Dare said.
The outgone sports minister said he was even more fascinated by the comportment of the players, after Sierra Leone fought back to make it 2-2. According to him, that was the hallmark of good teams, and scoring at the last minute to win it confirms that Nigeria’s status as three-time African champions, is no fluke.
Also on Sunday, the Blue Sharks of Cape Varde and Eagles of Mali punched their tickets to the flagship tournament, with resounding victories.
On Saturday, 2012 champions Zambia and Equatorial Guinea joined Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Egypt, in booking their places for the 34th edition of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, to be staged in Côte d’Ivoire.