Nigeria’s Super Eagles B team started their appearance at the African Nations Championship (CHAN) with a goalless draw against Rwanda in Tangier on Monday.
Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf opted for a three-man forward of last season’s NPFL top scorer Anthony Okpotu, Sunday Faleye and Emeka Ogbugh.
The Nigerians were favoured by pundits to start off on a winning note but it turned out differently despite dominating the game for larger spells.
Yusuf’s men totally took charge of the first period and it all started with Faleye powering his header against the crossbar on nine minutes after connecting Ogbugh’s cross from the right channel.
Eleven minutes later, it was the turn of Rabiu Ali to sting the palms of the Rwandan goalkeeper Eric Ndayishimiye. This time Faleye was the provider.
The only attempt of the first half by Rwanda from Rayon Sports FC left-back hardly troubled goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.
The Nigerian team continued to peg Rwanda in their half. After 37 minutes, Stephen Eze unmarked in the box failed to direct Daniel Itodo’s long throw-in on target.
The chances kept popping up for Nigeria but they lacked that final touch to put the ball beyond Ndayishimiye. On one of such occasions, the Rwandan goalkeeper made a mess of Osas Okoro’s curling cross and Rabiu Ali instead of passing the ball into the net, blazed it over with a gaping goal before him.
Three minutes before the break, Nigeria’s attempt clipped the frame of the post. This time Ali’s shot was 25 yards well directed but the ball will not just dip in.
The Eagles performance in the second 45 minutes was underwhelming compared to the first.
On 57 minutes, Eze turned in the ball from about three yards following Ogbugh’s scuffed shot from close range. Eze was correctly flagged offside.
Substitute Mustapha Ibrahim nearly broke the deadlock but like Faleye and Ali watched with hands on his head as he headed attempt bounced off the upright.
Rwanda then had to desperately defend for their lives as Kalu Orji’s low drive was cleared off the line, and the rebound header by Mohammed Nura was put out to safety.
The central African nation then had a rare chance to steal the game at the death when Eric Rutanga’s curling free kick was headed wide by Yannick Mukunzi who was flagged offside.
The draw leaves Nigeria and Rwanda with a point apiece in Group C where Libya lead after a 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea earlier in the day.
Nigeria will face the Libyans in Tangier this Friday.
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