The Nigeria national football team, Super Eagle, has blown away opportunities to book their ticket for next year’s African Cup of Nations after surrendering a four-goal lead against Sierra Leone to end their qualification match in a draw.
Although the game started on a bright note with both sides charging for goals, Nigeria was the better side in the opening 30 minutes, with the host scoring four goals to put fears in the hearts of their opponents.
As the third match of both teams on Group L progressed on Friday, the Leone stars grew confidence and went on to draw level, ending the match played at Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Edo State.
The Super Eagles, during the match, played in accordance with Federal Government Coronavirus protocol, hit the ground running in the encounter when Everton star, Alex Iwobi, opened the scoring chart, firing home a fine strike from the edge of the box at the fourth minute.
Sixteen minutes after, the visitors came close to level proceedings but missed the glorious opportunity and seemed to pay for the missed chance when their host doubled their lead 60 seconds after.
A brace from Alex Iwobi and strikes from Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze gave the Super Eagles a deserving lead into the interval.
The Eagles dominated the opening minutes of the encounter but failed to create a clear chance to score until the fourth minute when Iwobi fired in a tame strike from the edge of the box to give Gernot Rohr’s side the lead.
Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Kevin Akpoguma and Zaidu Sanusi formed a four-man defence while Oghenekaro Etebo and Joe Aribo, who missed the Super Eagles friendlies in October due to injury problems were handed starting roles, combining with Iwobi in the midfielder.
For Sierra Leone, Mohamed Kamara, Umar Bangura and Quee were included in the starting line up as coach John Keister aims to get their qualifying campaign back on track.
Sierra Leone came close to level proceedings in the 20th minute but missed the glorious opportunity and seemed to pay for the missed chance when Nigeria a doubled their lead two minutes later.
Osimhen connected with a fine cross from Sanusi and hit his effort into the back of the net beyond the reach of the Leone Stars goalkeeper Kamara. After this, the Super Eagles continued to dominate proceedings and Iwobi got his second in the encounter when he lofted his effort past Kamara in the 27th minute.
The second-half continued in a similar fashion as the Super Eagles continued their domination and Chukwueze came close to scoring his second but was ruled offside.
Nigeria’s coach Rohr introduced red-hot Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho for Musa while West Bromwich Albion centre-back Semi Ajayi was brought on for Balogun in the 65th minute.
Sierra Leone, however, pushed for a comeback with Kamara reducing the deficit in the 72nd minute before Bundu scored the third for the Leone Stars eight minutes later.