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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 22:16 GMT
Nigeria thankful after 'miracle'
Nigeria players, with Taye Taiwo in the foreground, celebrate their qualification
There was a real sense of relief for the players of Nigeria

Nigeria forward Osaze Odemwingie has warned the rest of the tournament that his team mean business after their "miracle" qualification.

The Super Eagles beat Benin 2-0 while Ivory Coast defeated Mali as Nigeria scraped into the last eight and a quarter-final meeting with Ghana.

"We asked for something of a miracle and it happened," said Odemwingie, who is suspended for Sunday's match.

"We showed great mental strength. Rule us out at your own risk."


The victory for Nigeria, who have not been eliminated at the group stage since 1982, sparked scenes of celebrations in the Super Eagles camp.

Odemiwingie, 27, had an excellent game against the Squirrels, setting up John Obi Mikel for the opening goal.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni made the result safe for Nigeria five minutes from time - and with Ivory Coast comfortably defeating Mali, the Super Eagles finished second in Group B on goal difference.

"We are now up against the host team and if we want to progress in this competition, we will have to beat them as well," added Odemwingie.

Didier Drogba was on the scoresheet as Ivory Coast won their third straight game.

The heavily-fancied Elephants will now play Guinea for a place in the semi-finals - but the Chelsea striker is refusing to talk up his team's chances of winning the tournament.

When asked about the prospects of the Ivorians improving on their status as beaten finalists in 2006, Drogba said: "Be careful - football is very strange.

"I hope we can keep it very simple, not speak too much and do it on the pitch.

"It is another tournament that is starting now. Two years ago was two years ago - this is a new competition and we have different players. I hope we go on to win it but now it is a series of knockout games."

Nigeria 2-0 Benin
29 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Sunday Oliseh on Nigeria
29 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Ivory Coast 3-0 Mali
29 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
Africa Cup of Nations photos
29 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
The lowdown on qualification
27 Jan 08 |  Africa Cup of Nations
2008 Cup of Nations qualifying
20 Oct 07 |  Africa Cup of Nations


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