Nigeria head coach Joe Mbu is looking forward to his side taking on Morocco tomorrow (Saturday) at the TBS Cricket Oval, home of Lagos Cricket Club, to determine who wins the Middle East Africa Championship. His side defeated Ghana there on Wednesday, Morocco just getting past Cameroon in the other semi-final.
“We are expecting an equally tough game,” said Mbu from the capital where there has also been a civic reception, coaching and match official courses for seven nations and the presence of the 2021 World Cup together with RLIF chairman Graeme Thompson. “In their game Morocco showed great character when Cameroon looked the more dominant side. It just goes to show that there are no easy games.”
In their opening clash, a hat trick from former Huddersfield player, hooker Bolu Fagborun saw the hosts home 25-12. London Bronco’s Sadiq Adebiyi opened the scoring for Nigeria but Ghana hit back through centre John Bless Mensah.
Fagborun’s first try and a second conversion from Isah Lawal-Saulawa saw Nigeria lead 12-4 at half time, and the scrum half added a field goal just after the break. Two converted touchdowns in eight minutes leading up to the hour from Fagborun edged the home side into a decisive lead, but Ghana gained a late consolation score from Eric Tettegah; Mensah with his second goal.
Mbu added: “Ghana were strong, well-drilled and really passionate – took the game to us and didn’t give us a moment’s rest. We had to work hard for the victory and the boys showed a lot of resilience to overcome and see the game through. Both matches showed really fantastic effort from all the sides and strong performances from each of the African nations, which is highly encouraging.”
Morocco stand off Illias Laachiri scored all his nation’s points via the boot in an 8-4 triumph. His penalty and two field goals made it 4-0 at half time and he added further penalties in the 46th and 67th minutes. Cameroon posted a late try with seven minutes to go from centre Emmanuel De Porta.
Morocco coach Abed El Wahed Sougini said: “Participating in this championship is an honour for me and my players. We will give everything to try to win the competition.”
The third-place play off game between Cameroon and Ghana will kick off at 2pm with the final starting at 4pm, highlights of both games will be shown on Super Sports and YangaTV!
NRLA chairman Abbey Cole said: “We are looking forward to two fantastic games of rugby league tomorrow and hope we can pack the stadium with supporters; it’s going to be a great day and we wish all the teams best of luck continuing their progress.”
Tournament director Remond Safi noted: “It’s been an amazing week with a positive atmosphere in all camps. Those on the ground here have gained much from their courses and watching the fixtures to take back to their nations.”