The explosive Group C West African derby played at the Kigali Regional Stadium in Rwanda, produced a second half five goals thriller with substitute, Chikatara netting three of it within 20 minutes.
Chikatara, who replaced the struggling Temitope Babatunde Adeniji in the 68 minutes, delivered a thunderous strike within minutes of coming on to double Nigeria’s lead in the 73rd minute following an inch-perfect pass from Moses Osadebamwen Okoro, scorer of Eagles opener.
Although, Niger’s Adje Victorian Zakari Adebayor pulled one back for his side with a left-footed screamer from 30 yards to reduce the goal margin to 2-1 in the 80th minutes, seconds later on the other end of the pitch, Chikatara ran between two defenders to tap home a superb pass from Okoro in the 81st minute.
The ‘kola nut boy’ as he is popularly called would complete his hat trick in the 92nd minutes slotting in beyond helpless Alzouma to take home the Orange Man of the Match prize.
Chikatara’s feat means he is only the second player to score a hat trick at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) since the inaugural edition in 2009. Zambia’s Given Singuluma scored the first CHAN hat-trick against Ivory Coast at the 2009 edition.
And the player was full of gratitude for the feat: “I want to first thank God then my coach for giving me the opportunity to play in such a huge tournament. To be sincere I did not expect such a performance but I want to thank my team mates who enabled me to score those goals,” he said shortly after receiving the prize.
On winning the accolades, the Abia Warrior talisman said: “Winning Man of the Match is definitely a proud moment for me and I pray that I can continue doing my best for my country Nigeria in the tournament going forward.
“It was not an easy game and when the coach brought me in as a substitute I had strict instructions to deliver and alas the coach’s wish were answered with the important goals I scored for my team Nigeria “he added.
By Olisemeka Obeche