Substitute John Banda’s dying seconds goal gave the Flames of Malawi a deserved 1-1 draw against the Super Eagles in a World Cup qualifier in Blantyre.
In the match played at the Kamuzu Stadium, the Eagles almost secured a 1-0 victory before a slip by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama gave the Malawians an equaliser.
The Eagles had taken an 89th minute lead via a powerful header by Gabriel Reuben at the edge of the box, which connected substitute Ahmed Musa’s free-kick from the right flank.
But in the third minute of added time, Enyeama failed to hold a high ball, with just 40 seconds to go.The blunder saw the ball slipping to a Malawian player who, in turn, slipped a pass to Banda who then blasted grounder past the Nigerian defence line, with Enyeama off his line.
The 1-1 result was well celebrated by the Malawians, who in any case deserved a draw in the Group `F’ match.
The Malawians had dominated the game in the first half, which was a ding-dong affair with the Eagles struggling to keep up the pace with a few counter-attacks.
Nyereva Mwafulirwa, Robin Ngalande and Nyondo Atusaye had combined to make the first half difficult for the Nigerian defence quartet of Efe Ambrose, Juwon Oshaniwa, Godfrey Oboabona and Azubuike Egwuekwe.
In the process, they missed good scoring chances in the 9th, 18th and 40th minutes, with Enyeama coming to the Eagles’ rescue through his experience and sharp reflexes.
The Eagles looked better in the second half, especially with the introduction of Kalu Uche to replace Victor Moses in the 72nd minute and Raheem Lawal to replace Obiorah Nwankwo three minutes later.
They made up for the mid-field and attacking worries of the first half, which did not allow the Eagles to take the lead through good fast breaks by Ejike Uzoenyi, Victor Moses and Ikechukwu Uche.
However, with the introduction of Ahmed Musa as a substitute for John Utaka in the 87th minute, the Eagles held sway and appeared to have secured a 1-0 victory before Enyeama’s blunder levelled the scores.
The Eagles are, nonetheless, still leading the group with four points from two matches, having won their first game 1-0 in Calabar last Sunday.