Nigeria are through to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals to be held in Cameroon next year by beating Benin 1-0 in Porto Novo.

The Super Eagles had already secured their place for the final tournament that is to be held in Cameroon in 2022 thanks to a 0-0 draw between Lesotho and Sierra Leone earlier in the other match of Group L.

That result also meant that Benin only needed a draw at home against Nigeria, and thought they had finished the job until the 94th minute when Genk striker Paul Onuachu snatched the victory for Nigeria in the dying moments of the game to make Benin having to go through the grind in the final game of the qualifiers.

Onuachu was originally on the standby list of the squad and was included after a few key players missed out due to injury for Nigeria. The striker made the most of his chance.

The Benin players were unnerved as the final whistle blew just moments later as they were just seconds away from booking their tickets to Cameroon. 

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Sierra Leone will now take on Benin in Freetown on Tuesday knowing that if they win, they will be equal on points with them. If that happens, their head-to-head record will also end up being equal at that point – both having won a game each so they will be separated by goal difference.

However, Benin can avoid all of that by just making sure they do not lose in the capital of Sierra Leone in the final Group L game.

Three-time AFCON champions Nigeria confirmed their spot at the next Nations Cup from an intriguing Group L.

The 0-0 draw between Lesotho and Sierra Leone confirmed Likuena’s elimination from contention for the finals as well as Nigeria’s qualification before the Super Eagles had even kicked off for their match against Benin.

It looked as if the hosts would join the Super Eagles in securing an AFCON berth, but the Squirrels’ fate will now be decided by their final Group L match away to Sierra Leone on Tuesday 30th March.

Nigeria have guaranteed the first spot in the group regardless of what happens against Lesotho.

This is how Group L stands with the last round of games to go.

  1. Nigeria – 11 points (Q)
  2. Benin – 7 points
  3. Sierra Leone – 4 points
  4. Lesotho – 3 points