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  • It’s 57th Independence Gift, Say Buhari, Rohr
  • We Made Nigeria Sweat For Their Victory – Zambian Coach, Player
  • Mikel: “Russia 2018 A Dream Come True”
As Nigeria became the first African team to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup on Saturday after a 1-0 victory over Zambia, praises have begun to pour in for the Super Eagles after the euphoric victory.
Though, a keenly contested match with deadlock extending till the better part of second half, Alex Iwobi came off the bench and struck late in the second half as the Super Eagles soared to 13 points in Group B, finishing comfortably above Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria to secure their sixth appearance at the World Cup.
Reacting to the victory, one of the excited fans of the Super Eagles who witnessed the momentous celebrations inside the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, popular T Boss of famous Big Brother Nigeria said he was fulfilled with the Nigeria’s qualification. “I ‘ve come to cheer Super Eagles and they have lifted up to the occasion, they’ve made us proud and I’m so excited,” she told The New Diplomat at the Nest of Champions, Uyo.
President Muhammadu Buhari in his congratulatory message to Nigerians yesterday had described the hard-earned victory as “very sweet, soothing and a 57th Independence Anniversary gift to the nation.” He applauded the nation’s senior men’s football team for the feat of making Nigeria the first African country to qualify for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, with a match left to play.”
The match began with the Chipolopolo having two consecutive corner kicks spelling early pressure on Nigerian side in the 3rd minute. But two minutes later the super Eagles had their first corner kick. And in about 30 minutes into play Nigeria had first attempt on target which the Zambian keeper made good save.
With both teams playing with caution the first half ended with no goals.
In the second half both teams tried some new techniques and the Nigerian midfield was heavily tasked.  Onazi became injured in the first half of the game. Alex Iwobi’s introduction marks the turning point in the game as he quickly filled-in the gap to relieve Nigerians of their anxiety becoming a super-sub. His 74th minute goal relief the anxiety on the team as the Super Eagles thereafter unleashed a superlative performance in what turned out to be an historic victory for the country.
Iwobi latched onto a cutback just inside the box after good interplay between Victor Moses and Shehu Abdullahi, before drilling home with unerring accuracy in the 74th minute.
With one match left to play, Nigeria can begin to look forward to their sixth appearance at the grandest stage of all.
Speaking at the post match interview, the Zambian head coach, Wedson Nyerinda was proud of his boys for making a good show of themselves.
“We played a good game today and I will say it is the best game in the qualification series. We rebuild the team in a very short time and they have been very hard working and determined players.

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Similarly one of Zambian heroic player, Kennedy said he was delighted in the conduct of his team mates. “Nigeria had to sweat for their victory. Though am disappointed by the result, am not disappointed by the way we played.
One of the Zambian supporter at the Nest of Champions also expressed his views and the feelings back home.” Am happy that Nigeria versus Zambia is always a good football to watch, remember Africa Cup of Nations, Tunisia 94. Today we played our best but it wasn’t our day. Remember what we did against Algeria home and away. Fortunately Alex Iwobi made Nigerians smile. I think back home Zambians will not be very disappointed because the boys played well.” Tim Zulu said.
Meanwhile, Coach Rohr dedicated the victory to Nigeria’s independence, “I am happy with the victory. It is not finished, we have to prepare for the world cup and the victory is a gift to Nigeria’s independence anniversary. We also want to win the Algeria match despite qualification.”
He also dedicated the triumph to ailing Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper, Carl Ikeme who is still taking treatment for acute leukemia in England.
For the Super Eagles’ captain, leading Nigeria to world stage was a dream come true. ” it was my goal. You could see the hunger, it was a very difficult game but we had amazing players and a great coach. The Zambians made us lost a bit of energy. They are a good team with bright future.”
Akanimo Kufre Reports From Uyo

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