Super Eagles maintain unbeaten run after Algeria stalemate

Super Eagles of Nigeria

Nigeria ensured they finished the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series without defeat following a feisty 1-1 draw with Algeria on Friday.

Already through to Russia, the Super Eagles came into the clash against the Desert Foxes on an unbeaten run and nothing at stake.

Yet, the three-time African champions displayed incredible appetite.

Such that not even the absence of regulars, Victor Moses, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo and Ogenyi Onazi affected the team’s performance.

And more impressively, they coped without skipper, Mikel Obi, who was on the bench, as Gernot Rohr used the outing to give other players an opportunity to stake their claim for a place at the finals in Russia.

However, it turned out that Mikel’s midfield replacement, John Ogu, would give the country a well-deserved lead.

Ogu hammered home a left-footed strike in the 63rd minute, taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance, to put the visitors in front before Algeria were handed a soft penalty which Yacine Brahimi converted with two minutes to go.

Brahimi might have been sent off 10 minutes earlier after appearing to headbutt an opponent, but was only booked by Gabonese referee Eric Otogo.

The home side missed two clear chances in the second half from Islam Slimani and Aissa Mandi right in front of goal, after slips by Nigeria’s goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

Slimani also had a chance just 23 seconds into the match as he powered through the visiting defence in an effort to get his head onto a cross from Riyad Mahrez, but his effort went wide.

Carl Medjani blasted a long-range effort wide of the target after 12 minutes as Algeria looked for a win in their first match under new coach Rabah Madjer, back for a third spell in charge.

Nigeria striker, Tony Nwakaeme, on his debut, shot on the turn just before half-time as the Algerian defence failed to clear in their own penalty area and forced a sharp save out of goalkeeper Fawzi Chaouchi.

Five Leicester City players featured in the game in the city of Constantine – Mahrez and Slimani for the hosts and Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi both starting for Nigeria, with Ahmed Musa coming on as a substitute.

Next up for the Eagles is an international friendly with Argentina on Tuesday.