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AFCON 2022: Super Eagles qualify even before defeated Benin

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the 2022 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) scheduled to hold in Cameroon.

The Nigerian side qualified for the tourney even before the 1-0 win over the Republic of Benin match on Saturday as a result of the goalless draw between fellow Group L members, Lesotho and Sierra Leone.

Two days ago, the Eagles inflicted the first home defeat in eight years on The Squirrels at the Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo through a last gasp winner by Paul Onuachu.

The last time the team lost a game at home was in 2013 against the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

The Super Eagles now top with 11 points from five games, the Republic of Benin have seven, while the Leone Stars and the Crocodiles have four and three points respectively.

The team, managed by German coach, Gernot Rohr, started the AFCON qualifiers on a flying note, securing a 2-1 victory over Benin at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom.

Victor Osimhen cancelled out Stephane Sessegnon opener before Bordeaux forward Samuel Kalu scored a fantastic long-range effort to seal the victory for Rohr’s men.

The West African country continued their impressive start to the campaign, securing a 4-2 win over Lesotho at Setsoto Stadium.

Osimhen got a brace in the encounter while goals from Everton star Alex Iwobi and Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze completed the rout.

The Super Eagles then squandered a 4-0 lead to draw 4-4 in Benin City against Sierra Leone, much to the displeasure of their fans.

Their second meeting with the Leone Stars in Freetown ended 0-0 and despite the back-to-back draw, the three-time African champions retained their top spot in Group L.

Nigeria have now qualified for their 19th appearance in the continental showpiece with one game on hand.

On Tuesday, the Super Eagles will square off against Lesotho in their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

The Super Eagles finished third at the last edition of the continental tournament in Egypt, behind winners Algeria and Senegal.

Their best performances at the biennial competition were in 1980, 1994 and 2013, where they won the highly coveted trophy.

The West African side remain the team with the most bronze medal at the tournament, winning it eight times.

They will hope to clinch their fourth title at the 2022 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Defending Champions and Ivory Coast Clinch AFCON Ticket

Last tournament champions, Morocco and the Ivory Coast also secured places at the tournament.

The Moroccans booked an 18th appearance after Group E rivals Burundi and the Central African Republic drew 2-2 in Bujumbura, where the visitors surrendered a two-goal matchday 5 lead.

That result assured the former champions of a top-two finish four hours before they play Mauritania in Nouakchott later Friday.

Morocco have 10 points, Burundi and Mauritania five each and the Central African Republic four in the section.

Ivory Coast thumped Niger 3-0 in Niamey to clinch a Group K place, with Ethiopia and Madagascar in contention for the other.

Tottenham Hotspur full-back Serge Aurier starred for the Elephants, scoring the first goal and creating the others for Max Gradel and Wilfried Kanon.

Congo needed maximum points against Senegal in Brazzaville to qualify from Group I but had to settle for a 0-0 draw and the satisfaction of ending the 100 per cent record of Sadio Mane and his Teranga Lions.

The Congolese have a two-point lead over Guinea-Bissau, who beat Eswatini 3-1 in Manzini, and they clash in Bissau Tuesday to decide who finishes runners-up behind Senegal and goes to Cameroon.

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