Ten-man Nigeria national U23 national team played out a dull goalless draw with their Guinean counterpart at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja in the first leg of the CAF U23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
Parading a team hurriedly put together a few days to the encounter following bouts of controversy, head coach Salisu Yusuf could do no magic to get the better of the Baby Elephants.
The Olympic Eagles lacked ideas in attack and had to wait until the half-hour mark before getting their first shot on target. Even that came from a dead ball situation, with Ogunniyi Omo-Jesu crashing a lovely freekick against the bar.
Seemingly displeased with the output of his boys, coach Salisu effected a double substitution before halftime – the former Enugu Rangers tactician sent in Monsuru Opeyemi Jonathan Aluku to replace Azeez Yusuf and Akanni Qudus.
Still, it yielded little fruit as captain Success Makanjuola’s tame efforts were the only thing that distracted Guinea’s goalkeeper.
If the first half was bad, the period after the halftime break was terrible.
The Olympic Eagles went on a nap allowing the Guineas to seize the initiative.
The visitors could have had the breakthrough early on, but the crossbar denied them.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper Nurudeen Badmus came to the team’s rescue several times as the Eagles searched for the goal to give them the advantage in the return leg.
Ifeanyi Ogba missed a late chance for Nigeria. Still, moments later, the home side was reduced to ten men after the Egyptian referee showed defender Christopher Nwaeze a red card.
Despite a nervy ending, Nigeria held on for the draw, and the team will need to produce a big result in Guinea in six days to stand a chance of qualifying for the 2023 AFCON
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