By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria’s Super Eagles were forced to a scoreless draw in Freetown yesterday barely four days after the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone claimed their famous 4-4 draw in Benin City. Nigeria’s qualification for Cameroon 2022 has been delayed by another match-day.
Super Eagles however remain at the summit of Group L of the 2022 AFCON qualifiers with eight points, Benin Republic who similarly played out a barren draw with Lesotho are second on seven points. Sierra Leone are third on two points with Lesotho in the rear with just one point.
The Sierra Leoneans who were buoyed by the draw in Nigeria last Friday had dreamed of snatching all three points at stake yesterday to boost their chances of picking one of the group’s tickets.
However, it was the Super Eagles who were thoroughly embarrassed by the result in Benin City that offered their first threat at goal in the third minute, with Kelechi Iheanacho shooting on target direct from a free kick, though his effort was no trouble for Sierra Leone goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara.
Eagles had another chance on 16 minutes when Samuel Chukwueze curled an effort just wide of the mark, before the Leone Stars had their first chance through Alhaji Kamara, who was denied by a fine save from Maduka Okoye in goal for Nigeria.
Galatasaray of Turkey middle man, Oghenekaro Etebo suffered an injury blow a few minutes before the interval when he limped off and was replaced by Shehu Abdullahi.
The halftime whistle saw both teams locked at 0-0.
Super Eagles again created the better chances after the restart, with Iheanacho shooting high and wide on 51 minutes after great set-up play from Chukwueze, while the Leicester City striker found the back of the net just after the hour mark but had been flagged offside.
Midway through the second half the Super Eagles threatened again when Alex Iwobi shot just over from long range, with Gernot Rohr’s team beginning to build some consistent pressure in attack.
However, the hosts’ defence stood firm – with some help from goalkeeper Kamara, who made another fine save on 82 minutes when he parried away Iheanacho’s shot from the edge of the penalty area.
All teams in the group have two matches left to play in the new with Nigeria needing just a win to advance to the tournament proper.
P W D L GF GA GD PTS
Nigeria 4 2 2 – 10 7 3 8
Benin Rep. 4 2 1 1 3 2 1 7
S’Leone 4 0 3 1 5 6 -1 3
Lesotho 4 0 2 2 3 6 -3 2
S’Leone 0-0 Nigeria
Lesotho 0-0 Benin Rep.
Namibia 0-1 Mali
Sudan 1-0 Ghana
Angola 0-1 DR Congo
CAR 0-2 Morocco
Rwanda 0-0 Cape Verde
Togo 1-3 Egypt
Tanzania 0-1 Tunisia
Ethiopia 3-0 Niger