Super Sand Eagles veteran, Abu Azeez hit a milestone 100th goal for the Nigerian squad, as he helped them beat Egypt 7-6 on Wednesday and pick a ticket to the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.
Footballlive.ng gathered that Abu’s day with history came on a day the Nigerian team pulled off multiple heroics against the African Beach Soccer Cup of Nations hosts, and equally reached their third final in the competition’s history.
The Eagles and Abua have another match to aim for more history, as they will see a third continental tile that would take them to Paraguay 2019 as African champions, and make up for their 2016 loss in the final on home soil against Senegal.
Such was the joy on Wednesday, as Azeez struck four beauties on the afternoon in Egypt, one of which was his 100th goal for Nigeria. After a period of high pressure from the men in green, Taiwo ran on to a long pass to arrow a low shot past Mohamed Fawzy in the Egyptian goal. Trailing by two already, the hosts had to come up with something soon and stop the previous edition’s runners-up.
They did exactly that, when Moustafa Aly drove a free kick home to pin Nigeria back to just one goal ahead.
The crowd revitalized, Egypt kept up the attack but importantly defended furiously to make sure that the first period ended with the game within sight, at just 1-2.
As the second period started, Egypt were looking the more dangerous of the sides and Paul, the Nigeria goalkeeper, was kept busy, pulling off some impressive stops.
However, another goal eluded them, until Costa found a sliver of space to pelt a low shot into the corner, giving Paul no chance this time.
Aware of their dominance, Egypt were moving over the sand with confidence, but when Ogbonna sent a cleanly-hit chip into the top corner, Nigeria were leading once more.
Abu then made it 2-4, grabbing his second of the day. But Samir, a minute after missing a penalty, dragged Egypt back once more, by scoring a free kick. The third period got underway with the hosts just one behind Audu Adamu Ejo’s men.
Abu completed a hat-trick, Samir was there, once more, to volley home after a sublime piece of teamwork, and the difference remained the same.
Then, a penalty, and the chance to draw level. Mohamed stepped up, took a deep breath and powered the shot past Paul to equalise – 5-5! With the prospect of a place in the FIFA World Cup ahead of them, Egypt were throwing everything they had at the Nigerians who were suddenly looking vulnerable, lunging into tackles and giving away valuable free kicks.
Abu picked the defender’s pocket to take the lead yet again, but just a minute later Egypt were level when Mohamed scored a beauty of an overhead.
Extra time was snatched cruelly from them, when more defensive complacency saw Ogbonna nick the ball, calmly finish and take the game 6-7 for Nigeria.