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Super Eagles pounce on Lesotho to round off AFCON qualifiers

THE Super Eagles ended their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Lesotho on Tuesday.

Victor Osimhen, Oghenekaro Etebo and Paul Onuachu scored the goals for the Nigerians who won their qualifying group with 14 points from six matches.

Although the Super Eagles had already qualified for next year’s tournament billed for Cameroon, head coach Gernot Rohr still fielded a strong line-up with goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, defender Tyrone Ebuehi, midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo and forward Alex Iwobi the only ones not involved in Saturday’s win over Benin Republic in Cotonou.

The four replaced Maduka Okoye, Ola Aina, Joe Aribo and Henry Onyekuru in the XI.

As expected, the Super Eagles were dominant from the start and got close to scoring a few times before their goal eventually came.

Osimhen reacted sharply to a brilliant ball over the top from the right by Kelechi Iheanacho and the Napoli striker poked home for his fifth goal in the qualifiers in the 21st minute.

Lesotho thought they had equalised three minutes later when they had the ball in the Nigeria net after Uzoho had initially saved a fiercely struck free-kick. The goal was ruled out for a very tight offside.

The first half ended 1-0 but it was soon 2-0 after the interval.

A minute after Iwobi’s tame shot from the edge of the Lesotho box was easily saved, Etebo scored Nigeria’s second goal.

The Galatasaray midfielder finished off Osimhen’s short pass from close range just four minutes into the second half.

The Super Eagles continued to pile forward and they almost widened their lead in the 70th minute from a breakaway after a Lesotho corner, but the final pass to Osimhen was slightly overhit and the Lesotho keeper got to the ball before the Nigeria striker.

Onuachu and Henry Onyekuru replaced Osimhen and Iwobi in the 75th minute, and the substitutes combined for Nigeria’s third goal.

Onyekuru laid off the ball for the in-form Genk striker seven minutes after they both came on, and Onuachu finished it off with a low shot for his second goal in two games.

With the win, the Super Eagles ended the qualifying campaign with 14 points from six matches, making them one of the best teams in the entire series.

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