Flying Eagles play draw with Benin

Flying Eagles of Nigeria
Flying Eagles of Nigeria

The highly entertaining encounter was a preparatory match for both teams.

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were on Sunday held to a 1-1 draw by hosts Benin in a 2013 African Youth Championship, AYC, warm-up match played in Cotonou.

It was a fair reflection of this international friendly even though the Nigerian U-20 side missed a penalty. Striker, Bright Ejike, could have scored Nigeria’s second goal in the 59th minute after he was hacked inside the box on his way to goal by Yarou Nabil, only to see his spot kick at second attempt come off the crossbar and roll into touch.

Both teams used the game to prepare for AYC qualifiers coming up this weekend.

Nigeria will be away to South Africa on Friday, while Benin travel to Senegal for their own qualification battle.

Home team Benin, who paraded no fewer than six Nigerian players and benefited from some “home calls’ by the referee, took the lead after 22 minutes.

Left back, Halilu Obadaki, was fouled by the edge of his box and from the resulting free kick top striker Bissan Jacques, who has Nigerian root, nodded past skipper Samuel Okani into the Flying Eagles goal.

However, the Nigerian team fought back to draw level seven minutes later when man of the match, Moses Orkuma, sweetly tucked home from inside the box after a great team play by the African champions, initiated by Shehu Abdulahi from the right wing.

Despite the absence of talisman, Abduljaleel Ajagun, who limped out of this entertaining encounter after just 28 minutes, Nigeria continued to pile pressure on their hosts after the interval, playing with fluency and confidence.

Substitute, Yahaya Adamu, missed a header early in the second half, so too Tope Aluko and Agboyi Ovboka, later in the game watched by about 2,000 fans.

Benin carved out a great chance in the 68th minute, but the final chip from inside the goal area was firmly held by substitute goalkeeper, Jonah Usman, who later made another spectacular diving save as the Junior Squirrels piled on the pressure in the closing stages of the game.