Nigeria 2 – 0 Rwanda
9’ [1 - 0] I. Uche
56’ [2 - 0] A. Musa
Uganda 4 - 0 Congo
Malawi 2 - 0 Chad
Cameroon1 - 0 Guinea-Bissau
Two goals, one in either half were enough for Nigeria’s Super Eagles to eliminate Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars from the running to play at the 2013 African Cup of Nations finals tournament in South Africa.
Spain-based striker Ikechukwu Uche, who plays for La Liga outfit Granada (on loan from Villarreal) set the Eagles on the way a comfortable 2-0 win with a 9th minute lead, before Ahmed Musa added the second 11 minutes into the second period.
Musa plays for Russian giants CSKA Moscow. He was preferred by coach Stephen Keshi to start ahead of the more experienced pair of Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic) and John Utaka (Montpellier).
Jean Claude Ndoli’s fine form in the Amavubi goal was the difference between the final score line and Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojovic’s team not losing by a bigger score at U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
The APR man, who has finally cemented his position as Rwanda’s undisputed first choice goalkeeper after a period of bit-stops, made a couple of defining saves to deny the Eagles from running rampant.
Micho was without his captain Olivier Karekezi, who failed to recover in time to play a part in what was always going to be a daunting task of trying to beat to Nigeria at their place with or without him.
The first leg in Kigali played on February 29 ended goalless, and Amavubi were hoping to get at least a scoring draw to progress to the next qualifying round on the expense of the star-studded Eagles.
Already without Elias Uzamukunda who missed the trip with a knee injury, Micho started with Meddie Kagere and Dady Birori to the attack. Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza also started in the midfield.
Amavubi wasted three good chances in either through Kagere who was a constant threat for the Nigerian defenders, but none came to anything meaningful, with the closest coming off the crossbar in the second half.
Last weekend’s hero against Benin Bokota Labama came on for the disappointing Birori in the second period as the visitors, who will now regret not winning the first leg, chased the return leg game.
The Eagles win the tie 2-0 on goals aggregate and progress to the second round, which will bring together the 15 qualifiers from the first round and the 16 finalists at the last Nations Cup held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early this year.
Assistant coach Jean Marie Ntagwabira admitted at full time that the Eagles were better and probably deserved to win, “Nigeria is a big team but we manage to hold our own against them, especially in the second half.”
“With them playing at home and the experience they have playing at the highest compared to our players, I think they deserve their win. For us, we can only take the positives from such big games,” he said.
The loss is the fourth for Amavubi team in their last six matches, the other two ended in draws. Following defeats to Libya (2-0) and Tunisia (5-1) and a 1-1 draw with Chad in international friendly matches, Rwanda went down 3-0 to Algeria and managed a 1-1 against Benin in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Rwanda last participated in the Africa Nations’ Cup final in 2004 which was held in Tunisia. The team is expected to return home on Monday evening.