BY ISAAC AFOLABI
Super Eagles succumbed to a late goal to share the spoils 2-2 with Saudi Arabia in a friendly match on Friday.
Kelechi Iheanacho had come off the bench to give Nigeria the lead after the
West Africans went behind. But a late free-kick from the Saudis saw the game end in a draw.
The Leicester City forward struck in the 81st minute for the Super Eagles against the Middle East side in Portugal but his goal was not enough for Nigeria.
The Green Falcons had taken the lead in the hour-mark after goalkeeper Francis Uzoho mishandled a corner kick, flicking the ball into his own net.
But just 13 minutes later, following a quick counterattack, the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper deflected Victor Boniface’s strike to level scores for Jose Peseiro’s boys.
Yearning for more, Nigeria launched attacks after attacks. Iheanacho, who replaced Samuel Chukwueze in the 64th minute, then latched onto a loose ball at the edge of the box and sent it to the top-left corner of the net. Advantage Nigeria!
But the Super Eagles conceded a freekick on the edge of the box deep into added time. The strike deflected off a Nigerian player to give Roberto Mancini’s side a draw.
Nigeria will now play Mozambique in another friendly match on Monday as the team prepare for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Before Friday’s game, Nigeria were drawn in Group A of the 2023 AFCON where they were pitched against hosts Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea. The Super Eagles were knocked out in the round of 16 during the last edition of the tournament held in neighbouring Cameroon.
Thrice winners of the competition, Peseiro’s charges will aim to make it a fourth-time lucky when the tournament starts early next year