Super Eagles booked their place at the 2014 World Cup finals as they saw off Ethiopia 2-0 in Calabar, Cross River State on Saturday, securing a 4-1 aggregate success in the qualifying play-offs.
The Super Eagles headed into the return fixture holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg in Addis Ababa and added to their tally after 19 minutes as Victor Moses slotted home from the penalty spot, while an Obinna Nsofor free-kick eight minutes from time wrapped up the result.
Nigeria will now head into their fifth World Cup campaign looking to better their best previous finish, having twice made the round of 16, in 1994 and again in 1998, while their outings in 2002 and 2010 ended at the group stage.
The hosts got off to a good start and worked a decent shooting opportunity after just a few minutes, with a cut-back pass from the wing rolling out to the on-rushing Efe Ambrose, although he was quickly closed down and his deflected shot curled just wide of the post.
With six minutes gone, the Super Eagles got their first shot on target as a cross into the area picked out Emmanuel Emenike with acres of space, although an awkward bounce meant he needed to take a touch before shooting, giving the keeper time to steady himself and make a decent save.
With 18 minutes gone on the clock, Stephen Keshi’s men were gifted the chance to open the scoring, with the referee adjudging Abebaw Butako to have handled the ball in the area, resulting in a penalty for the hosts.
Liverpool striker Moses then stepped up, sending the goalkeeper one way before slotting his effort the other.
The Antelopes looked to have won themselves a penalty seven minutes after the restart as two Nigerian defenders combined to take Shemeles Bekele’s feet out from underneath him, although the referee was not interested in the furious appeals.
Saladin looked to change the momentum and again had the Ethiopia bench on their feet appealing for a penalty after being brought down, although the referee awarded only a free-kick, claiming the contact had been made outside the area.
The Antelopes, though, were unable to make the most of it as the set piece eventually came to nothing.
Nigeria put the game to bed in the closing stages, with Nsofor’s free-kick dipping viciously at the far-post, and although it appeared a routine save for Tasew, the keeper somehow let the flight of the ball elude him as he could only help it into the top corner to end any hopes of a late fightback.