Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles turned on the style in their semifinal game against Morocco at the Caf Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations to win 6-1 on Saturday.
The win now pits Nigeria against Senegal in Sunday’s final and also ensures that the Sand Eagles qualify for the 2017 Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in Bahamas alongside Senegal.
Early in the game, Nigeria goalkeeper Godwin Anyalogu was forced into a big save to stop the Moroccans from going in front within seconds.
The Moroccans pegged back Nigeria by adopting long range efforts and within four minutes of the first period Anyalogu had made three top saves including one from the opponents goalkeeper Ismail El Ouariry.
Despite all of their pressing play in the opening exchanges, Morocco fell behind to the hosts when Emmanuel Ohwoferia headed in the rebound to give Nigeria a goal lead after Abu Azeez’s attempt at goal came off the crossbar.
Again, Anyalogu stood between Morocco and a goal when he saved El Ouariry’s free kick.
At the other end, Victor Tale smashed the ball at goal and made the Moroccan stopper work to keep out to prevent Nigeria from doubling their lead.
The hosts went into the first period with a goal lead but will have their goalkeeper to thank for keeping a clean sheet in the opening minutes of the game.
At the start of the second period, Suleman Ogodo Mohammed watched with dismay as his effort hit the post.
Then Nigeria thought they had doubled their lead when Anyalogu’s looping ball was turned in past El Ouariry by Ogodo but the match officials ruled it out for an infringement.
Just when everything looked to be going Nigeria’s way, Anyalogu, who has been the man keeping the Sand Eagles from conceding, let in an easy goal from Anas El Hadaoui’s free kick with the ball bubbling just in front of him and through his legs before he could catch it.
Azeez restored Nigeria’s lead after coming close twice to getting among the goals.
El Hadaoui, with seven minutes to the end of the second period, nearly put Morocco level when his free kick bounced off the sand and clipped the upright with Anyalogu sprawling on the sand.
Ogodo, with less than five minutes to end the second period, produced a moment of brilliance and composure to move swiftly past two markers before lashing the ball into the top left-hand corner of El Ouariry to give Nigeria a 3-1 lead.
Just over a minute to end the second period, Tale fired a free kick off target and Moroccan goalkeeper forced Anyalogu to tip the ball over his post to finish the period.
Emeka Ogbonna made it a mountain to climb for Morocco when he scored an audacious goal past El Ouariry, prompting their bench to make a goalkeeping change as Yassir Abada came on in the third period.
Anyalogu then punched to safety a dipping effort from KACS defender Sami Iazal while at the other end Abada kept out Isiaka Olawale’s effort.
With under eight minutes left, Ohwoferia put the daylight between the Sand Eagles and Morocco when he scored from the spot to give the former a 5-1 lead.
Azeez almost scored Nigeria’s sixth goal when he was through on goal but Abada came off his line quickly to thwart his effort.
But Azeez would not be denied from scoring when he stole in behind a Moroccan defender to slip the ball beyond a stunned Abada to make it 6-1 to Nigeria.
With just a little over two minutes left in the third period, Ohwoferia came close when he was on the end of a cross but Abada’s touch took the ball off his direction before he could make that final touch.
Seconds to the end of the game, Anyalogu pulled off one more save as Nigeria went through to the final to qualify for the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup.