Victor Osimhen Scored Twice As Nigeria Super Eagles QUALIFY For AFCON 2023 With A Win Against Sierra Leone.

Man of the moment Victor Osimhen scored twice as the Super Eagles of Nigeria sealed a place at the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d'Ivoire next January.

Two West African sides headed into the clash at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, Monrovia, Liberia on Sunday evening, with Jose Peseiro's men needing a victory to guarantee their place in next year's continental showpiece, while John Keister's side needed all three points to keep qualifying hopes alive of securing successive AFCON appearances for the first time since 1996.

Sierra Leone had suffered a 2-1 defeat against Nigeria in their Group A opener in June 2022, when goals from Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen helped the Super Eagles cancel out Jonathan Morsay's early strike and turn the game on its head.

The Leone stars, have failed to win their last six meetings, losing four and claiming two draws, and have won just two of their last 17 encounters since April 1961.

Nigeria emerged victorious today again narrowly defeating Sierra Leone 3-2 following a tight contested encounter, with Osimhen giving the visitors a well deserved lead in the 19th minute.

The Napoli and former Lille forward, showed the reason why he finished as top scorer and named the best striker in the just concluded Serie A season, having pounced on a long ball from the defence by centre-back Kenneth Omeruo before lifting the ball above the host goalkeeper Ibrahim Sesay. 

Samuel Chukwueze missed the chance to double Nigeria’s lead in the 27th minute.

The Villarreal winger shot straight at Sesay after he was put through on goal by Osimhen.

Osimhen then doubled his country's advantage in the 33rd minute when he was picked out beautifully by Joe Aribo in the box before bundling the ball into the net.

The goal was Osimhen’s 17th goals in 24 appearances for the Super Eagles, taking him past Ahmed Musa, Samson Siasia and Odion Ighalo (16) to sixth on the list of the team’s all-time scorer chart. Rashidi Yekini tops the list with 37 goals in 62 matches.

The Super Eagles remain on the front foot and nearly scored the third in the 39th minute but Simon’s fierce shot was saved by Sesay.

Sierra Leone did not relent in their play, as they pulled a goal back through Mustapha Bundu after a devastating counter-attack three minutes before the break.

The hosts came close to finding a quick equaliser after the return in the 54th minute, but goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye reacted quickly to push the ball away.

Jose Peseiro men had numerous chances to put the tie to bed, but were wasteful, as substitute Kelechi Iheanacho was denied by Sesay 12 minutes from time after he was set up by Osimhen

The Leone stars finally drew level in the 84th minute of the game as Augustus Kargbo fired a low shot from the edge of the box to beat the helpless Nigerian goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye. 

Both teams pushed for the winner, but it was Nigeria who smiled at the end after Iheanacho tapped in from close range after being set up by Zaidu Sanusi to win the game 3-2.

Although a draw was enough for the Super Eagles to seal qualification for AFCON 2023 heading into the match in Monrovia, but after bottling a two goals lead, Jose Peseiro's team were able to go top of the group with the win.

They are 12 points above second place Guinea Bissau who have also qualified with 10 points from Group A, Sierra Leone are third with 5 points, and Sao Tomé and Príncipe are bottom with 1 point.

Nigeria will face Sao Tome in the final group game of the qualifier in September.

The three-time African champions, are set to make a third consecutive AFCON appearance, after enduring an underwhelming run in 2021, where they were sent packing in the round of 16 following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tunisia.

At least 12 countries have qualified for the next year's 34th edition of the biennial AFCON tournament that will feature 24 teams.

Ivory Coast booked their place at the finals tournament as hosts. This would be the second time they will be hosting, with their first in 1984.

Aside Nigeria and Guinea Bissau, Zambia joined South Africa as another COSAFA nation going to the finals.

Equatorial Guinea and Egypt also qualified on Matchday 5.

Morocco, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Tunisia, and defending champions Senegal complete the list.

Sao Tome and Principe, Botswana, Lesotho and Madagascar, Libya, Liberia, Comoros, South Sudan, Ethiopia, are already out of the tournament.

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