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NPFL stars feature as Mexico edge Super Eagles in friendly

Peseiro era starts with defeat to El Tri

Nigeria’s Super Eagles lost 2-1 to Mexico in Jose Peseiro’s first game in charge of the side at the AT & T Stadium in Arlington, Texas in an international friendly match.

With only 20 players in camp, the new Super Eagles coach handed strikers Cyriel Dessers and Terem Moffi their full debuts for the side in a brand-new strike partnership.

Mexico started the game on the front foot and wasted no time in taking the lead through 21-year-old striker Santiago Gimenez after only 13 minutes in the most fortunate of circumstances. A cross-field ball was headed across the box by El Tri left-back Jose Gallardo and it caught the Super Eagles defense flat-footed, allowing Gimenez to steal ahead and fire an effort goalwards. The striker drew a big save from Nigeria’s Francis Uzoho but saw the ball ricochet off his midriff into the back of the net.

Nigeria’s men looked outnumbered as Mexico continued to dominate, with veteran captain Andres Guardado, in particular, pulling the strings in midfield. The Real Betis man forced Uzoho into two impressive saves as the first half drew to a close.

The Super Eagles came out for the second half with renewed verve, and Katsina United midfielder Faisal Sani was introduced for his international debut, replacing FC Lorient midfielder Innocent Bonke.

Peseiro’s half-time team talk must have worked brilliantly as his side responded brilliantly nine minutes into the second half.

Alex Iwobi received the ball deep in his half before releasing Calvin Bassey on the overlap. The Rangers youngster covered half the length of the pitch before sending in an early cross that was headed onto the ground and to the back of the net by Cyriel Dessers. It was the UECL top scorer’s first goal for Nigeria, although the Mexican goalkeeper should have done better.

The scores was not level for long as two minutes later a cross from Gallardo was turned home by Super Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong to restore Mexico’s lead in the game.

The Nigerian team continued to pile up the pressure, with both Dessers and Moffi sending efforts wide of the target as the team went in search of a second equaliser.

Enyimba striker Victor Mbaoma and Rivers United duo of Chiamaka Madu and Ishaq Rafiu Kayode came on and impressed in the closing stages for their Super Eagles debuts but were unable to help the team get back in the game as the Mexicans held on for a deserved win.

Peseiro will now return to the drawing board before his side takes on Ecuador in their second friendly game on Friday morning.

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