Nigeria’s national team were anything but super on Saturday as they crashed to a shocking 2-3 home loss to the Red Devils of Congo in their first match of the qualification series for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations billed to take place in Morocco.
The Super Eagles, who are the AFCON defending champions, were tipped to get a blistering start at UJ Esuene Stadium where, before today, they have been invincible.
But that was not the case as French Coach Claude Leroy, showed once more that he has the magic wand to always beat any Nigerian side.
The Eagles did start well in Saturday’s second Group A duel as Nigeria took the lead in the 13th when Ahmed Musa lobbed a free kick to the left side of Congo’s penalty box and the ball was headed across goal by Elderson Echiejile before Efe Ambrose nodded in to give the Super Eagles the lead.
Sadly, Nigeria’s lead was short-lived after a defensive blunder between Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona and the Congolese made the most of the situation as Prince Oninague got the equaliser for the visitors.
Nigeria had some few chances to restore the lead but they failed to make their chances count as they were simply lethargic and the Congolese yet again capitalised on sloppy defending and as they went 2-1 up in the 40th minute through Thievy Bufona.
While many had expected that the pep talk from Coach Stephen Keshi would amount to better play for the Eagles in the second half, it was not to be as the Red Devils extended their lead after a needless challenge by Lazio midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi, gifted the Congolese a penalty which they calmly slot in to make scores 1-3.
Emenike and Nosa Igiebor and much later Gbolahan Salami were all brought in to held salavage the day for Nigeria and even though Salami pulled one back, it was not enough to save the Eagles from going down to their first ever defeat at the Calabar stadium after years of invincibility at that venue.
Next stop for the Eagles will be the away game to South Africa on Wednesday.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana started their own qualification series with a convincing 0-3 away win over Sudan on Friday night.