Football: Nigeria's home-based Super Eagles sensationally came back from three goals down to beat Morocco 4-3 and qualify for the semi-final of CHAN yesterday. They will now clash with the winners of the quarterfinal between Ghana and DR Congo which will be played today. After half an hour of parity, Morocco took the lead when Moshine Moutaouali chipped over Chigozie Agbim in the 33rd minute. Danger man Iajour doubled Morocco's advantage four minutes later when his free kick from the edge of the box beat Agbim with his defensive wall clay-footed.
And five minutes later, Nigeria paid for the indiscipline in their defence when Moutaouali was freed from inside the box and he shot past the Nigeria goalkeeper.
Ugonna Uzochukwu pulled a goal back four minutes after the break when he toe-poked the ball from the top of the box. Rabiu Ali then scored Nigeria's second goal on 56 minutes as he smashed home from the edge of the goal area. It was his third goal of the tournament.
Ejike Uzoenyi completed a remarkable Nigerian comeback when he struck on the stroke of 90 minutes with a superb shot from outside the box. Substitute Aliyu Ibrahim grabbed the winner for Nigeria in the 11th minute when he latched on to a spill by Morocco skipper Nabil Lamyarheri.
President Goodluck Jonathan congratulated the Eagles on their exhilarating come-back victory. In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, the president commended the courage, patriotism, determination and dedication to national service exhibited by the Super Eagles.
He urged the team to maintain their exemplary commitment to national duty until ultimate victory in the continental soccer championship for home-based players is achieved.
Jonathan assured the team and its handlers that they would continue to receive the fullest possible support from the federal government and all Nigerians as they strive to add the African Nations Championship trophy to the African Nations Cup which Nigeria won last year.
Also Senate President David Mark and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu yesterday described the Super Eagles of Nigeria as worthy and dependable ambassadors who did the nation proud by their remarkable victory. In separate statements, the duo commended the resilience and determination of the team to regain victory after initial defeat.
Mark in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Paul Mumeh, said the Eagles lived up to their responsibility by defeating the Atlas Lions of Morocco 4-3 after initially going down by three goals. He encouraged the team not to leave anything to chance in their determination to bring the trophy to Nigeria.
"Coming from behind after three goals down to beat your Moroccan counterparts is a proof of your professionalism and determination. This is miraculous. I am proud of you.
The nation is proud of you. I earnestly assure you that your labour will not be in vain. Nigeria will reward you handsomely," Mark promised. In the same vein, Ekweremadu who noted the perceived lackluster spirit exhibited by the team in the first half of the match especially the defence, commended the Eagles for showing enormous character and determination in the second half and extra time of the game.
He said: "The Super Eagles have just rekindled reminiscences of the Damman miracle at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship in which Nigeria upturned a four goal deficit to defeat the defunct Soviet Union in a breath-taking quarter final encounter."
By Jaiyeola Andrews, Omololu Ogunmade and Demola Ojo