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12 Dec 2018
Nigeria first team to qualify for the World Cup in Paraguay
Egypt were beaten to the final by the Sand Eagles, who become the first to qualify for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay as Abu scores goal 100 for Nigeria
After beating their hosts Egypt in the semi-final of the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations 2018, Nigeria become the first side, excluding the automatically qualified hosts, Paraguay, to make it to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2019.
Elsewhere, there were wins in the play-off for Madagascar against first-timers, Tanzania, as well as Côte d’Ivoire, who beat Libya by six goals to three.
But first, let's look at how today's semi-final went down, where Abu Azeez scored his 100th goal for Nigeria...as well as his 101st, 102nd and 103rd!
Egypt 6-7 Nigeria (SEMI-FINAL)
Victory against two-time champions Nigeria today, would see hosts Egypt make it to the final on home sand, guarantee their best ever finish in the Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, and of course, a precious place at the FIFA World Cup 2019 in Paraguay.
However, Nigeria were not about to go easy on their hosts and Abu Azeez struck his 100th goal for his country after a period of high pressure from the men in green. Then Taiwo ran on to a long pass to arrow a low shot past Mohamed Fawzy in the Egyptian goal.
Trailing by two already, the hosts had to come up with something soon and stop the previous edition’s runners-up. And they did exactly that, when Moustafa Aly drove a freekick home to pin Nigeria back to just one goal ahead.
The crowd revitalised, Egypt kept up the attack but importantly defended furiously to make sure that the first period ended with the game within sight, at just 1-2.
As the second period started, Egypt were looking the more dangerous of the sides and Paul, the Nigeria goalkeeper, was kept busy, pulling off some impressive stops. But another goal eluded them, until Costa found a sliver of space to pelt a low shot into the corner, giving Paul no chance this time.
Aware of their dominance, Egypt were moving over the sand with confidence, but when Ogbonna sent a cleanly-hit chip into the top corner, Nigeria were leading once more. Abu then made it 2-4, grabbing his second of the day. But Samir, a minute after missing a penalty, dragged Egypt back once more, by scoring a freekick.
The third period got underway with the hosts just one behind Audu Ejo Adamu’s men. As Abu completed a hat-trick, Samir was there, once more, to volley home after a sublime piece of teamwork, and the difference remained the same.
And then, a penalty, and the chance to draw level. Mohamed stepped up, took a deep breath and powered the shot past Paul to equalise - 5-5! With the prospect of a place in the FIFA World Cup ahead of them, Egypt were throwing everything they had at the Nigerians who were suddenly looking vulnerable, lunging into tackles and giving away valuable freekicks.
Abu picked the defender’s pocket to take the lead yet again, but just a minute later Egypt were level when Mohamed scored a beauty of an overhead. Extra time was snatched cruelly from them, when more defensive complacency saw Ogbonna nick the ball, calmly finish and take the game 6-7 for Nigeria.
The heart-broken hosts sank to the sand while the ecstatic Nigerians celebrated wildly. These sides will have to wait until tomorrow to see who they face in the 3rd place play-off and who will join Nigeria in the final, and Paraguay.
Goals: 0-1: Abu, min. 6 (1); 0-2: Taiwo, min. 3 (1); 1-2: Moustafa Aly, min. 2 (1); 2-2: Costa, min. 6 (2); 2-3: Ogbonna, min. 4 (2); 2-4: Abu, min. 3 (2); 3-4: Samir, min. 1 (2); 3-5: Abu, min. 10 (3); 4-5: Samir, min. 9 (3); 5-5: Mohamed, min. 7 (3); 5-6: Abu, min. 5 (3); 6-6: Mohamed, min. 3 (3); 6-7: Ogbonna, min. 0 (3);
Madagascar 5-2 Tanzania (PLAY-OFFS)
After failing to qualify for the next round of the CAF Beach Soccer African Cup of Nations 2018, former competition winners Madagascar were trying to secure as high a finishing position as possible.
Their rivals in today’s play-off, were first-timers Tanzania, who were keen to make an impression in their first edition, despite not having made it to the semi-finals.
The experience of Claude Joseph Pierre Barrabe’s Madagascans seemed to tip the balance early on, as Hollas struck with just two minutes gone and then the goalkeeper, Chretien, blasted home to double the advantage.
However, the men in yellow and blue had a response when Samwell found some space to turn and shoot, halving the deficit and Tanzania were keeping pace with their well-practiced opponents. A few minutes later, the two-goal lead was restored, as Regis stretched to volley in a cross and take the score to 3-1 at the first break.
At the game’s halfway point, Tanzania scored again, when Jaruph hit a fine strike to make it 3-2. With just a goal in it, Madagascar were in danger of claiming their worst ever finish in the competition, having always finished 5th or above.
With just a 12-minute spell to go, the game was wide open and anyone’s for the taking. Fitana met a corner with his chest and stuck away a fourth for Madagascar, restoring a two-goal cushion once more, and after that they were happy to retain possession and wind the clock down.
Regis leapt into the air to meet a long throw from his keeper, turning it into the Tanzanian net, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Tanzanian campaign, as the whistle blew a minute later.
Their best hope now was to beat the loser of the day’s later match between Libya and Côte d’Ivoire to take seventh place, while Madagascar would play to victor in the battle for fifth place.
Goals: 1-0: Hollas, min. 10 (1); 2-0: Chretien, min. 8 (1); 2-1: Samwel, min. 4 (1); 3-1: Regis, min. 3 (1); 3-2: Jaruph, min. 7 (2); 4-2: Fitana, min. 7 (3); 5-2: Regis, min. 1 (3);
Libya 3-6 Côte d'Ivoire (PLAY-OFFS)
Following the day’s earlier game, in which Madagascar saw off Tanzania, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire now had to fight for the chance to beat the Madagascans to a fifth-place finish.
Côte d’Ivoire were still waiting to pick up their first victory in the 2018 edition of the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations, but it took a long time for Libya to break them down. The score was opened when Esam went on a steaming solo run to blast in a shot, taking the lead in style.
But almost immediately, the Ivorians struck back with a sensational shot from Kabletchi who found the top corner from an awkward angle, levelling the match up with a matter of minutes until the first whistle.
After making a spectacular double save, the Libyan keeper, Hesham, was beaten by a fortunate bobbled shot, and Côte d’Ivoire were leading going into the second period. As the next period began, Kablan gave Cote d’Ivoire a two-goal advantage when he struck a long-range freekick and, despite numerous attempts by Libya to drag themselves back, the score remained at 1-3 throughout the period.
The third period started in the exact same fashion that the second had, with the Ivorians scoring from a freekick of similar range, and taking the match further out of the reach of their north African opponents. With freekicks were fast becoming the theme of this match, Waled scored a glorious one in response, making the result 2-4.
Then Aka, as if sensing a potential comeback, restored the three-goal lead with his sixth of the tournament, making him, for the time being, the top scorer. The goals were suddenly flying in thick and fast, as Adel pulled Libya back to 3-5 with a low strike. But Kabletchi polished the game off in the dying minutes with a bizarre finish in which he had to shoot from point-blank range whilst practically sitting on the ball.
At 3-6, Libya were defeated and will now play Tanzania tomorrow, to see if they can avoid finishing the tournament in eighth place; seventh would be their best ever finish. Côte d’Ivoire will battle against Madagascar for fifth place.
Goals: 1-0: Esam, min. 4 (1); 1-1: Kabletchi, min. 4 (1); 1-2: Abe, min. 1 (1); 1-3: Kablan, min. 10 (2); 1-4: Aka, min. 10 (3); 2-4: Waled, min. 8 (3); 2-5: Aka, min. 6 (3); 3-5: Adel, min. 9 (3); 3-6: Kabletchi, min. 1 (3);
Stay up to date with the results, fixtures and standing of the CAF Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations here.