Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo, on Saturday redeemed himself in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match at the Godwsill Akpabio Stadium Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Ighalo, fired three goals past the Libyan goalkeeper to compound the woes of the North Africans whose coach, Adel Amrouche, resigned a few days to the encounter. A fourth goal by Samuel Kalu, compounded the woes of the Libyans who now sit in fourth place with four points as against Nigeria’s six points, which have propelled it to the second position.
The Libyans nightmare began in the second minute after the Libyan goalkeeper, Mohamed Abdaula, fouled Ighalo in the north Africans’ goal area. Ighalo stepped up to convert the penalty awarded by referee, Jean-Jacques Ndala.
Ighalo almost earned Nigeria a second penalty seven minutes later when he appeared to have been fouled by the Libyan goalkeeper but the referee waved aside his call for a penalty.
After missing a string of chances, the Eagles steadied their game and exactly on thirteen minutes in the second half, Ighalo struck a second time after receiving a pass from Alex Iwobi. It was a beauty of a goal as Ighalo on collecting the ball calmly rounded the Libyan keeper to slot in the ball into the waiting net.
He would finally get his hat-trick ten minutes later when latching onto a cross from Ahmed Musa, he rifled a shot past the Libyan defence and the goalkeeper. It would be his first hat-trick for the Eagles, and Nigeria’s first in 18 years in a competitive game since Victor Ikpeba grabbed a hat-trick for the Eagles in its 4-0 mauling of Namibia in an AFCON 2002 game in Lagos on September 2, 2000.
The Libyans were finally knocked two minutes from time when Samuel Kalu got a pass from Henry Onyekuru, and he curled a shot from outside the 18-yard box, which left keeper Abdaula, helpless.
With the loss to Nigeria and his team sitting in fourth place, coach Omar Al-Marime, who took over from Amrouche following his dramatic departure, has his work clearly cut out.
Both teams clash again in a return Matchday 4 fixture at the 18,000 –capacity Stade Taïeb Mhiri in the city of Sfax, Tunisia on Tuesday, 16th October.
RESULTS OF OTHER MATCHES:
Group E: South Africa 6-0 Seychelles
Group L: Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Group A: Equatorial Guinea 0-1 Madagascar
Group K: Mozambique 1-2 Namibia