, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 14 – Obafemi Martins was the two-goal hero as Nigeria defeated Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi Saturday and snatched a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Trailing at half-time in a match they had to win, the ‘Super Eagles’ hit back with two goals inside five minutes through Martins from German champions Wolfsburg and Everton striker Aiyegbeni Yakubu.
Harambee Stars levelled 12 minutes from full-time as they battled to finish third in Group B and clinch a place at the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola only for Martins to score the winner on 83 minutes.
The ‘Harambee Stars’ failed to clear a cross and the former Newcastle United striker spun before hooking the ball beyond goalkeeper Willis Ochieng to earn Nigeria a fourth World Cup appearance.
Tunisia, who held a two-point advantage over Nigeria for five rounds, were too cautious against Mozambique in Maputo and an 83rd-minute Dario Monteiro goal gave the ‘Mambas’ (Snakes) a 1-0 victory.
Nigeria finished with 12 points, Tunisia 11, Mozambique seven and Kenya three and the ‘Eagles’ became the fourth country to qualify from Africa after South Africa (automatically as hosts), Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Yakubu missed a simple chance before France-based Dennis Oliech gave Kenya a 16th-minute lead with slick passing carving open the Nigerian defence before he slotted the ball past the advancing goalkeeper.
Oluwafemi Ajilore and Osaze Odemwingie troubled Ochieng before a superb Joseph Yobo tackle prevent Oliech scoring again just before half-time at Kasarani Stadium in the Kenyan cpaital.
The game and the state of the mini-league turned dramatically midway through the second half as Martins levelled by sneaking unmarked into the penalty area and finishing an Odemwingie cross.
Yakubu atoned for his first-half miss as a shot from substitute Victor Obinna fell invitingly into his path and after a first attempt struck the woodwork, he made no mistake with his second chance.
However, a home team rocked by the midweek walk-out of German coach Antoine Hey after two players he did not select where included in the training squad, levelled when Allan Watende punished dreadful defending.
But Martins struck again just as Tunisia fell behind in Mozambique and the ‘Super Eagles’ emulated national teams from the most populous country in Africa who reached the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments.