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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 20:21 GMT
Nigeria 2-0 Zimbabwe
By Farayi Mungazi
BBC Sport, Port Said

John Mikel Obi (centre) celebrates with his Nigerian team-mates
John Mikel Obi (centre) was key to Nigeria's win over Zimbabwe
John Mikel Obi guided Nigeria to a 2-0 victory over Zimbabwe and to the top of Group D at the African Cup of Nations on Friday.

Coming on as a second-half substitute, the player at the centre of a transfer dispute between Chelsea and Manchester United swung in a corner for Christian Obodo to head home for the first goal in the 57th minute.

Moments later the 18-year-old Obi scored his first senior goal for Nigeria, with a low 20-yard shot that flew in the bottom corner of Gift Muzadzi's goal.

Nigeria need a draw in their final game against Senegal to reach the last eight, while Zimbabwe cannot advance.

After a cagey first-half in which neither team put together a move worth mentioning, the game came alive in the second period after Obi and Nwankwo Kanu entered the fray.

The pair's introduction gave Nigeria a renewed sense of purpose, and the Super Eagles took the game to their opponents, creating several chances which went begging.

The Warriors did force two good saves from Vincent Enyeama after the goals - first was a long-range effort from Cephas Chimedza, the second a shot on the turn from close range Benjani Mwaruwari.

As expected, the Warriors bow out of the tournament but not before raising a few questions about Nigeria's ability to go all the way and win their third African title.

The Super Eagles were expected to easily beat their supposedly inferior opponents, but like Senegal, last Monday, they huffed and puffed their way to an unconvincing win over Zimbabwe.

  • Nigeria midfielder John Mikel Obi:
    "I thank the coach for having given me the chance.

    "To score a goal makes me very happy but the most important thing is the victory of the team."

  • Nigeria coach Austin Eguavoen:
    "I was satisfied with my team's overall performance.

    "It was a tough game against Zimbabwe and I expect another tough match against Senegal.

    "But I have a team that is focussed and capable of beating any team.

    "We will work harder and with some luck we will achieve our targets here."

  • Zimbabwe coach Charles Mhlauri:
    "We lost concentration in the defence in the second half.

    "But against Ghana we will not lie down, we will take the game very seriously so as to take something back home."

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