( dpa )- Nigerians celebrated in the streets and chanted praises to God Tuesday after Ivory Coast beat Mali, opening the way for their struggling Super Eagles to qualify for quarter-finals in the African Nations Cup in Ghana. The Super Eagles qualified for the quarter-finals against all expectations, after beating Benin Republic 2-0 in their final Group B match at the Essipon stadium in Sekondi , Ghana. Spectators glued to television sets were jittery as many wondered what German coach Berti Vogts would tell Nigeria if the country had not qualified. It would have been the first time in 26 years that Nigeria did not qualify for the quarterfinals in the Africa Nations Cup. Tension was high at most viewing centers before the score line in the match between Cote d'Ivoire and Mali in Sekondi , Ghana, was displayed on television sets. Many Nigerians calmed down and started chanting praises to God in local languages when it became clear that Cote d'Ivoire was ahead by two goals to none. "We need to score more goals to be sure we are going ahead," a spectator said, adding jocularly that " Kanu Nwankwo has turned to Berti Vogts ' assistant instead of playing." "Many thanks to God for seeing us through. If Francophone Cote d'Ivoire and Mali had decided to play compromising match, Nigeria would have been in soup. Do not let us jubilate too much," the spectator added. Goals from Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi, (52nd minute) and Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni (86th minute) were a good response to Cote D'Ivoire's 3-0 win over Mali in Accra. The results ensured Mali were eliminated and Nigeria with four points and better goals difference finished second behind Cote D'Ivoire who topped the group with nine points. Atlanta Olympics football gold medallist Emmanuel Babayaro , Nigeria's former goalkeeper, said the result still left behind a lot of questions about the team. "Yes, we have qualified, but there are still so many questions about whether we really have a team that will remind us of those good old days," he said. "More importantly, do we really have a team that can comfortably face Ghana, a team that will make us feel confident that we won't be disgraced by Ghana?" he asked. Ibekwe Ndu , an Abuja resident, said he was not going to be "too excited" about the result and the team's qualification. "This is typical Nigerian style of waiting till the last minutes before doing what is necessary to be done," Ndu said.
Nigerians celebrate in streets over Super Eagles' win
30 January 2008 02:20 (UTC+04:00)