Super Eagles skipper, Joseph Yobo
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
The Super Eagles Saturday night played a 2-2 draw with the Lone Star of Liberia in the first leg of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match in Monrovia.
After the hosts shot into an early lead in the 5th minute through Tonia Tinsdel, the AFCON ticket seeking Eagles responded with brilliant exchanges between the forward line marshalled by the trio of Ikechukwu Uche, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.
That soon paid off in the 15th minute as Nosa Igiebor cashed on a loose rebound ball from Emenike’s effort to equalise for Nigeria.
The Eagles then seized the moment, temporarily putting the Liberians under intense heat.
Twice Uche had the chance to score but missed. Chelsea new boy, Moses was however hacked down in the box in the heat of pressure that ensued in a goal mouth melee. Uche effortlessly put the resultant penalty kick into the wrong side of Nathaniel Shirman in goal for the Liberians
What would have given the Eagles a clear advantage in the dying minutes of the first half was blown by Uche. After rounding the Liberian keeper and having only an empty net to tap the ball into, shot wide.
On resumption for the second half, the pep talk by Coach Stephen Keshi did not appear to do any magic.
The Liberian forward trio of Tisdell, Sekou Jabateh Oliseh and Zah Kranger ceaselessly piled pressure on the Eagles.
A pile driver fired by Kranger beat Vincent Enyeama but hit the upright and rebounded for the Nigerian keeper to grab. Another effort scored by the Liberian was adjudged to have been fired from an off-side position.
Deep into the game, Oliseh who had turned Juwon Oshaniwa and Godfrey Oboabona into his toys, walking through them with relative ease, grabbed an equaliser that sent the entire 40,000 capacity crowd at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium into frenzied celebration.
He tapped a lob from the right flank beyond a badly positioned Enyeama. The hosts then began to push deep into the Nigerian half to keep every Nigerian present at the stadium on edge.
The decisive return leg that would determine whether will again miss another AFCON is slated to hold in the weekend of October 8 or 9 in Calabar.