Nigeria’s U23 side were forced to a goalless draw by their Guinean counterparts at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Wednesday.
It is the first leg of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier with Yusuf Salisu’s side failing to take a much-needed win into the second leg.
The side struggled a whole lot in finding meaningful passes together, while the Guineans were relatively at home, combining beautifully in the middle of the park and going past the Nigerians easily.
It was a drab game in its entirety, and when Guinea had a chance to go in front in the opening 20 minutes of the game, defender Chris Nwaeze made a valuable block to keep the game goalless.
The half’s best chance came from Ogunniyi ‘Omojesu’ Timilehin via a free kick which went off the woodwork minutes before the half-hour mark. Asides that, both goalkeepers were largely untested for the opening half of the contest.
In a bid to change the dynamics of the game, the ineffective Akanni Qudus and former Gombe United forward Yusuf Abdulazeez were taken off for Monsuru Opeyemi and Jonathan Alukwu. But that desired change didn’t happen as the uninspiring first half ended goalless.
When the game resumed after the break, the Guineans showed more zeal and determination to nick the win but Nigeria have goalkeeper Badmus Nurudeen to thank for his brilliant stop after the attempt from Mohammed Lamine had come off the goalpost.
At the other end, Jonathan’s goal-bound effort was saved by Sekou Camara before gathering at the second time of asking. While Akwa United forward Ifeanyi Ogba sent his chance way over the bar after he was played through on goal by the impressive Benjamin Taminu.
With the game in its closing embers, Nurudeen was called into action again and he brilliantly denied Mohammed Suliman from handing the visitors the lead.
Late on, one of Nigeria’s best players on the day – Chris Nwaeze – was sent off for a second bookable offence after the Guineans broke in their numbers on the counter.
Despite the dismissal, Salish Yusuf’s side pushed for the win in additional time but the visitors stood strong at the back to nick a well-deserved draw in Abuja.
The second leg of this final qualifying fixture will come up in Morocco on Tuesday, 28th March, 2023 and kickoff is by 8pm (Nigerian time).
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago