The Super Eagles of Nigeria are one step away from securing the ticket to FIFA 2018 in Russia after battling to a 1-1 draw at the Stade Omnisports Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaoundé on Monday.
Gent attacker Simon Moses put the Eagles in front after Victor Moses and Odion Ighalo combined well to terrorise the Indomitable Lions defence before Vincent Abubakar scored his 17 international goal for the host via penalty to draw level.
Having dismantled the Indomitable Lions in Uyo on Friday, the Super Eagles went to Yaounde knowing a victory over the African champions with a favourable result in the game involving Zambia and Algeria in Constantine on Tuesday could secure them Russia 2018 ticket even with two games to spare and they came, saw and almost conquered.
Genort Rohr started with the same players that played the first leg in Uyo, Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal, Abdullahi Shehu, Troost Ekong, Leon Balogun and Elderson Echiejile made up of the back four, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi and Wilfred Ndidi were the midfielders and Victor Moses, Simon Moses were either side of Odion Ighalo who top strike.
As early as the 7th minute, Nigeria had started searching for the goal that would put them in the ascendancy and straight to Russia, but Sebastien Siami headed away a floated free –kick by Victor Moses.
Two minutes later, when Jean Pierre Nsame, surprisingly preferred to Vincent Aboubakar, was gifted an opportunity as Fabrice Olinga drilled the ball into Nigeria’s box, but he wasted it. In the 14th minute, Moses, full of running as he was in Uyo, earned a corner from a breezy run.
On the half hour, Nigeria got the lead that their self –assured approach deserved when Odion Ighalo, giving as much trouble to the Cameroonian defence as he did three days earlier, latched onto a Moses’ pass and got the ball into the box. It was returned, but a lurking Abdullahi Shehu floated it back, and Moses Simon rifled into the roof of Fabrice Ondoa’s net.
Ighalo and Moses threatened the Lions’ defence further, and in the second half, Nigeria continued where they left off as Moses continued to prove quite a menace to the hosts while goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa would not allow any ball past him.
On the hour mark, Cameroon coach Hugo Broos brought on Christian Bassogog and Aboubakar, which enlivened the Lions’ game, and after Moses came close to getting a second for Nigeria with a deft chip that missed narrowly, referee Papa Gassama duly pointed to the penalty spot after Ezenwa foiled Arnaud Njoum in the box in the 73rd minute. Aboubakar scored to level up.
Nigeria could have won it as Moses went for goal from a free kick in the 81stminute only to miss narrowly, and he did not direct a final effort well enough.