- Published on Thursday, 21 September 2017 22:38
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By George Akpayen
Kano Pillars playmaker Rabiu Ali scored the winner for Nigeria as they edged Benin Republic 1-0 in the first semifinals of the 2017 Wafu Cup of Nations at the Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana on Thursday.
The Nigerians took the lead in the 11th minute of the contest through Ali after Anthony Okpotu played him through on goal.
The experienced midfielder stayed composed to calmly put the ball beyond the Benin goalkeeper Steve Glodjinon.
Nigeria's Super Eagles continued their quick start and almost got a second on 30 minutes. Osas Okoro's cross was directed towards goal by Ubong Friday's head and that forced a big save from the Benin stopper.
Meanwhile Okoro had quite a battle with Benin winger Charbel Gomez who made the afternoon a torrid one for the Rangers man.
Despite Gomez producing some of the best attacking moments for the Squirrels of Benin, Marcellin Koukpo made things worse when he was sent off for a second bookable offence and that handed the Nigerians the numerical advantage.
The Nigerians did not make the Beninoise pay for being a man down, rather it was the Squirrels who nearly levelled matters through Jules Elegbede on 52 minutes.
The game also had that one moment when Plateau United teammates, Peter Eneji (Nigeria) and Benin defender Salomon Junior had their individual battles and both men got booked for illegally stopping each other.
However Salomon did just enough to keep his team in the game when his goalline clearance deny substitute Gabriel Okechukwu from doubling the lead for Nigeria.
Akwa United's Friday had effort that clipped the crossbar while Glodjinon's big strong hands kept out Eneji's attempt at goal from close range.
Nigeria will face hosts Ghana in the final of the Wafu Cup at the Cape Coast Stadium this Sunday.
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