By Samuel Gacharira,
It was the perfect birthday for Ahmed Musa after he put in a man of the match performance that guided the Super Eagles to a 3-1 win over Sudan at the Abuja National Stadium.
This was surprisingly the first win for Nigeria in the qualifiers and it leaves them in third position in Group A with four points, four behind leaders South Africa. Sudan is last in the group with three points in as many matches.
Knowing that anything less than three points from this tie would spell doom for his team and job, Stephen Keshi made major changes to his starting line up.
Hope Akpan and Aaron Samuel were handed their international debuts while regulars Elderson Echiejile and Efe Ambrose were relegated to the bench.
In what was a dull first half, the best chance fell to Bakri Abdelgadir who would have put the visitors ahead at the stroke of half time after he raced into the box only to shoot wide. The two teams headed into the break tied at 0-0.
Nigeria returned the stronger side and got the breakthrough in the 48th minute when Ahmed Musa latched onto a sublime pass from Obi Mikel and calmly slotted past Akram El Hadi in the Sudanese goal.
The lead only lasted seven minutes as Salah Ibrahim beat Vincent Enyeama with a neat finish from close range to silence the home supporters.
In the 66th minute, Aaron Samuel repaid his manager’s faith when he capitalized on a defensive mishap to restore the lead for the hosts. The Falcons of Jediane looked lost after that goal as Kasha’s men dominated proceedings thereafter.
Ahmed Musa then showed his class when he picked the ball at the edge of the box, rounded a defender and placed the ball into the far corner to complete his brace.
Sudan will welcome Congo Brazzaville in Khartoum as Nigeria host Bafana Bafana in the next round of matches.