9ja FlavourSuper EaglesWorld Cup qualifiers

Nigeria 1-1 South Africa: Bafana Bafana hold Super Eagles in Uyo

Nigeria and South Africa played a 1-1 draw in their crucial World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Friday night.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru scored his second goal for Nigeria to cancel out a fine Themba Zwane opener as the Super Eagles failed to soar past the visitors despite a remarkable second half performance In Uyo.

New Super Eagles head coach, Finidi George handed Manchester City academy product Fisayo Dele-Bashiru a place in the starting lineup while Chippa United goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali made his home debut for the Super Eagles after earning eleven caps on away grounds.

With the team initially set up in an exciting-looking 4-3-3 formation, the Super Eagles played on the front foot in the opening stages. However, South Africa’s short passing move allowed the Bafana Bafana to quickly settle, and it was the visitors who had the first chance of the game when a Teboho Mokoena free-kick grazed the crossbar with Nwabali beaten.

South Africa took the lead their fine play deserved just before the half-hour mark after Themba Zwane danced past a sleepy Nigeria defense to fire beyond Nwabali. The visitors came close to a second shortly after, but Benjamin Tanimu was on hand to head the ball away with Nwabali beaten.

Late in the half, Nigeria finally had a sniff at goal, but Onuachu, preferred in attack to Victor Boniface, placed his header from an Ademola Lookman cross close to goalkeeper Ronwen Williams. The Bafana Bafana headed into the dressing room at halftime the happier of the two teams, while the Super Eagles had a mountain to climb.

After riding their luck for the best part of the opening half, Nigeria came out strong in the second half and swiftly saw their efforts rewarded. Onuachu combined smartly with Iwobi, who then fed Dele-Bashiru. The young midfielder turned brilliantly to smash a low drive into the net.

Nigeria had a good shout for a penalty shortly after when Dele-Bashiru was hacked down in the box, but the referee surprisingly waved play on. Unfortunately, Dele-Bashiru did not recover from that knock and was replaced on the hour mark by Alhassan Yusuf.

The Super Eagles showed more fight than in the first half, and the chances began to open up for the home team. Bright Osayi-Samuel had a sight of goal after Onuachu played him in, but the Fenerbahce fullback passed a tame effort straight at goalkeeper Williams. Iwobi then fired high and wide when well-placed, before substitute Samuel Chukwueze smashed one into the crossbar after a smart one-two with Yusuf.

Nigeria had two late chances through Lookman to claim a win, but the Atalanta man could not find the efficiency he showed in the final of the Europa League last month. In the end, Finidi George’s Eagles settled for a draw with the Bafana Bafana, losing the chance to go top of Group C.

Nigeria will head to Cote d’Ivoire, where they will face the Benin Republic on Monday. The Super Eagles have now drawn their first three games in the qualifiers and sit second from the bottom. Group C now has a new leader after Lesotho climbed above all their rivals following a thrilling 2-0 win away to Zimbabwe.

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