Sports News of Monday, 23 January 2006
Nigeria defeated arch-rivals Ghana 1-0 thanks to a late Taye Taiwo goal in the opening match of Group D of the African Nations Cup.
Marseille defender Taiwo netted Nigeria's winner in the 84th minute when he fired home a low shot from 30 metres which beat goalkeeper Sammy Adjei.
The result was a repeat of Nigeria's victory in the quarterfinals of the 2002 edition of the tournament in Mali.
It was a contest in which there were very few clear-cut chances even though Nigeria were favourites to carry the day at the expense of injury-hit Ghana.
It was cautious start by both teams even though Nigeria were first to take the game to their opponents. However, the Black Stars gradually warmed their way into the match.Taiwo's bullet free kick shot after 23 minutes tested Adjei, who did well to somehow keep it out as the Eagles began to take full control of the match. Ghana striker Mathew Amoah also let fly a shot 27 minutes but missed the target and four minutes later John Mensah's goal-bound header off a corner was palmed away for yet another corner. The stadium came to life in the 38th minute when Julius Aghahowa appeared to have put Nigeria ahead but his shot had only hit the side netting to the relief of the Ghanaians. Nigeria stepped up their game just before the interval. Ayila Yusuf toe-poked his shot wide from inside the box while Wilson Oruma's shot was parried by Adjei but there was no Nigerian player to put away the rebound. Ghana too had their own chance to take the lead in the dying moments of the first half when Stephen Appiah fired home but Enyeama in goal for Nigeria pulled off a save. Both teams opened the second half in search of goals with the Nigerians having more of these openings. Yobo, and Martins all came close to getting their names on the scoresheet. At the other end of the pitch, Enyeama made a point-blank save from Kingston Laryea on 68 minutes while Amoah's header inside the six-yard box missed target soon after. The game appeared to be heading for the first draw of the championship before Taiwo produced his match-winning shot to give the Eagles full marks.