The Super Eagles strikers failed to convert their chances during the friendly match
By Tunde eludini
The Super Eagles were on Wednesday held to a goalless draw by the Menas of Niger Republic, in an international friendly used by both sides to prepare for the upcoming Nations Cup qualifiers in September.
The entertaining encounter played at the fifty thousand-capacity ‘Stade General Seyni Kountche Stadium’ in Niamey, which was half-filled, saw both sides give their best, with Nigeria having the edge in a match that saw three yellow cards to the visitors and one to the hosts.
The culprits were Solomon Kwambe, Solomon Jabason and Sanni Sanusi; while Niger hitman Kalilou Dawodu was also booked for rough play.
Niger started the better side when, after only five minutes, Boubacar Talatou tried to chip the ball past goalkeeper and skipper, Chigozie Agbim.
The Warri Wolves man slipped, picked himself up and went for the save, which resulted in him hitting his shoulder against the woodwork.
The Nigerian bench looked worried, but after the medics attended to the goalkeeper he was back to his feet; although he needed additional attention after the game.
Isoufou Boubacar, Sidibe Modibo and Mohammed Soumaila, also had their tries at the Nigerian goal area in the first quarter. However, the Nigerian defense made up of Azubuike Eguweke, Papa Idris and Juwon Oshaniwa held on strong. Egwueke gave his bench another scare in the 20th minute when he was stretchered off after hitting the ground while attempting a clearance, but he was back again after treatment.
From then on it was Nigeria all the way with Uche Kalu’s free kick blocked by Nigerien defenders in the 21st minute for one of the nine corner kicks played by the Eagles. Menas had five on the evening. Kalu had other chances in the 27th and 35th minute but they were all wasted, before Ejike Uzoenyi’s blistering run from the right fell to Mba who also blasted wide.
In the second half, the stand in coach for Niger, Frederic Acosta, made six changes in the first 20 minutes but nothing changed as Nigeria continued to dictate the pace of the game; but not before Agbim was again called to duty by danger man, Kalilou Dawouda, whose chip was going into the net before the big Nigerian palmed clear for a corner.
Keshi also made changes bringing in Umar Zango for a tired Idris, Kwambe was pulled out for Ugonna, Philip Asuquo for Sunday Mba, Sibi Gwar for Ejike Uzoenyi and Sanni Sanusi for Uche Kalu. As usual, Asuquo seized the midfield from the host but chances that fell to Sani, Reuben and Gwar were wasted as the referee blew the final whistle after five minutes of extra time for the home side to heave a sigh of relief.