Ethiopia ought to be getting used to Nigerians scoring late braces against them.
During the African Cup of Nations earlier in the year, it was Victor Moses who—during a tournament-altering 10 minutes—won and converted two penalties late on to change the complexion of the contest and send Nigeria on their way.
In Addis Ababa on Sunday, with World Cup qualification on the line and Nigeria 1-0 down following a Vincent Enyeama blunder, it was Emenike and not his Liverpool-based compatriot who broke Ethiopian hearts.
His goals were particularly pertinent. With the altitude and the atmosphere imposing themselves upon Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles—and the momentum of the match firmly with the hosts—Emenike’s contributions may prove to be invaluable.
First of all, he used his upper-body strength to hold off the defenders, then accelerated past some of the Black Lions’ massed ranks before firing powerfully, on the pivot, past the despairing, outstretched fingertips of Jemal Tassew.
The goal broke Ethiopian confidence and muffled the fervent home support. I doubt the Super Eagles were expecting to find a winner, but in the game’s dying embers, Emenike did.
After being brought down by Aynalem Hailu, the former Spartak Moscow man stepped up to seal the tie from the spot. It was 20 minutes of football that confirmed Emenike’s place among Africa’s finest forwards.
Ethiopia’s nightmares about late Nigerian penalties will surely continue for some time to come.