By Victor Okoye
Victor Osimhen on Monday produced a man-of-the-match performance, scoring four goals including two assists in Nigeria’s 10-0 mauling of São Tomé and Príncipe at the Grand Stade Agadir in Morocco.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that São Tomé and Príncipe played hosts to Nigeria in one of the day’s two matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), Group A qualifier.
Osimhen, who also scored the winner against Sierra Leone in Abuja on Thursday, started his account with a powerful header that goalkeeper Anastacio Braganca could not just stop in the 9th minute.
As early as the second minute, Osimhen, always fully charged, had flicked the ball with his head from a Zaidu Sanusi pull-out, but there was no Eagle to connect.
In the 19th minute, Terem Moffi’s shot was saved by Braganca as Nigeria dominated easily and with much efficiency, and four minutes later, a good Osimhen header from Ademola Lookman’s corner was again saved by Braganca.
In the 28th minute, defender Ola Aina’s pull-out found Osihmen, who laid for Moses Simon to tap beyond the flailing hands of Braganca for Nigeria’s second.
Four minutes later, Sao Tome and Principe had their first shot at Francis Uzoho’s goal, but Luis Leal’s effort went off target.
Moffi wasted two excellent opportunities to take Nigeria higher on the scoreline, in the 36th and 40th minutes, but he made up for his errors in the 43rd minute.
This was after he beat two defenders to slam into the net from a great Osimhen pass to ensure the Super Eagles took a three-goal commanding lead into the break.
In the secong half, it was all Nigeria. Osimhen’s firm header from a pull-out by Lookman in the 48th minute went in for the fourth goal.
Seven minutes later, Oghenekaro Etebo fired his 20 –yard free-kick into the underside of the bar and into the net for Nigeria’s fifth.
Osimhen thought he had scored a sixth for Nigeria in the 57th minute, but it was ruled off-side.
On the hour mark, substitute Ahmed Musa, only two minutes on the pitch, found an onrushing Sanusi whose cross found Terem Moffi well-placed to slam the ball into the net for Nigeria’s sixth.
It was Moffi’s first goal for the Super Eagles.
Three minutes later, Ademola Lookman, who found the roof of the net after another Musa pass found Moffi, chipped over onrushing goalie Braganca.
It was Lookman’s first goal for Nigeria.
Osimhen, ever too much to handle, got his hat-trick in the 65th minute when laid on by a sweet Musa pass.
The Napoli forward was unrelentless as another brilliant Musa pass found him in the right place to score his fourth and Nigeria’s ninth in the 84th minute.
Substitute Emmanuel Dennis won and converted a penalty kick on the stroke of 90 minutes to round off a goal-spangled afternoon for Nigeria in Morocco’s southern coastal city.
The win saw 62 year-old Portuguese José Peseiro obliterate Nigeria’s 63 year-old international scoring record.
Peseiro himself was not born when the Nigeria National Team, then known as Red Devils, defeated Dahomey (former name of Benin Republic) 10-1 in a Kwame Nkrumah Cup match in Lagos on 28th Nov. 1959.
The result also meant the Super Eagles shot to the top of the Group A table with six points and a superior goal difference of +11.
Guinea Bissau, who thrashed Sao Tomé and Principe in their first game of the qualifying series 5-1 are second with four points, after playing out a 2-2 draw with hosts Sierra Leone in their second game.
Sierra Leone, with one point are third, while Sao Tomé and Principe with no points yet, are at the bottom of the table.
The Super Eagles’ next games in the qualification are against Guinea-Bissau home and away in September.
Shehu Dikko, the 2nd Vice President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), described Nigeria’s 10-0 win over Falcons and True Parrots of São Tomé and Príncipe as a morale booster in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria
He assured that the Eagles would continue with the momentum after harnessing six points from the two matches played so far in the AFCON qualifiers.
“It is a good win for us and a morale booster for the team. I should say that it is a welcome development, the players are good individually.
“We need this type of win for the team to boost the confidence of the players; we can see that we have different goal scorers in the game as well.
“The win will surely send a message to other teams about the Eagles because every of the players performed well and it is difficult to single a player out for credit.
“We are happy that we are getting the results and so far so good things are getting in shape,” he said.
Dikko also said that the newly employed Portuguese Super Eagles coach, Jose Pesseiro, had instilled new developments into the team for the positive results.
“The Super Eagles coach is performing well so far, he is stabilising the team, bringing the desired competition and discipline in the team.
“The coach is sound tactically and also brilliant, taking things one step at a time. I believe that if he continues in this fashion, greater things will be accomplished.