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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 June, 2003, 17:55 GMT 18:55 UK
Nigeria's lucky escape
Nigeria 2-2 Angola

Ifeanyi Udeze was Nigeria's match captain
Udeze was sent off

Nigeria's Super Eagles have qualified for the Nations Cup finals in Tunisia, forcing Angola to a 2-2 draw in Benin City.

Playing without their full complement of European-based professionals, Nigeria was stunned by the enterprising play of the Angolans, who snatched the initiative from the start.

Unafraid of a Nigerian side that was hurriedly assembled for the match, the Angolans launched several incursions into the Nigerians penalty area.

The consistent pressure paid off in the 9th minute, when Figueiredo curled in a direct free kick that left Nigerian 'keeper Austin Ejide grasping the air.

With little cohesion in the Super Eagles, the Angolans were emboldened to increase their forays into their opponent's half but they were unable to increase the tally.

On resumption of play in the second half, The Palancas Negras attack resumed with a determination to humiliate the Nigerians at home.

It was no surprise when a header from Angolan captain Fabrice Akwa, off a corner kick, extended their lead in the 54th minute.

Staring the possibility of losing their Nations Cup place, Nigeria decided to fight back.

Amidst booing from the disenchanted Nigerian supporters, Uche Kalu lauched Nigeria's search for the needed match point.

Latching on to a well-placed cross, he nodded the ball past the Angolan 'keeper in the 56th.

After a Nigerian appeal for an earlier penalty was turned down, the referee pointed to the spot for a subsequent infringement.

Osaze Odemwingie made no mistake in the 62nd minute, as he tucked the ball into the right hand corner of the net.

Frayed nerves on both sides resulted in the expulsion of Nigeria captain Ifeanyi Udeze and an Angolan player for fighting.

A draw may not have been a satisfactory result for Nigeria's passionate fans but it was enough to ensure coach Christian Chukwu earned the ticket to Tunisia - and stays in his job.


SEE ALSO
Result: Nigeria 2-2 Angola
21 Jun 03  |  African
Nigeria rest key players
17 Jun 03  |  African

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