U23 AFCON Qualifier: Olympic Eagles held to goalless draw in Abuja
Foreign pros fail to dazzle in crunch qualifier
Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles failed to soar in Abuja as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Guinea in their U23 AFCON Qualifiers at the MKO Abiola Stadium. The team, composed of a mix of home-based and foreign-based players, failed to breach the Guinean backline.
With Belgium-based invitee Gift Orban absent from the squad, the Olympic Eagles fielded a similar side to the one that defeated Tanzania in the previous round. Latvia-based captain Success Makanjuola and Ogunniyi Omojesu led the lines against the Guineans.
Both sides contrived to produce a drab first-half in Abuja, with an Omojesu free-kick which came back off the woodwork the only attempt of note in the opening period. Unhappy with the showing, Nigeria’s manager Salisu Yusuf made two first-half alterations in the 40th minute, replacing Akanni Qudus and AbdulAzeez Yusuf with Monsuru Opeyemi and Jonathan Aluku. The changes did not yield any positive results, however.
Guinea started the second half on the front foot and almost went ahead four minutes into the half, only got the woodwork to save the Nigerian boys. Captain Makanjuola recorded the Olympic Eagles first shot on target of note shortly after the hour mark as he stung the palms of the Guinean goalkeeper.
The Nigerians nearly stole the win at the death through former Lobi Stars forward Ifeanyi Ogba, but he sent his effort over the bar from close range. There was enough time for a 90th minute red card for defender Christopher Nwaeze as the encounter reached its conclusion.
Both sides will lock horns again on Tuesday March 28th in Morocco for the second leg of the tie to determine who qualifies for the U23 AFCON, which will be the qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.