Swaziland frustrate Nigeria in World Cup qualifier

Sunday Oliseh

Sunday Oliseh’s Super Eagles began their quest towards qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia with a disappointing goalless draw with the Sihlangu Semnikati of Swaziland in Lobamba on Friday.

The three-time African champions were unable to force an important away victory in a game for which the South Africans gave a good account of themselves.

Apart from Godfrey Oboabona who started in place of the injured Leon Balogun, Oliseh retained the same line-up that thrashed Cameroon 3-0 in an international friendly played in Belgium last month.

Returnee striker, Obafemi Martins, and Manchester City starlet, Kelechi Iheanacho, started on the bench.

The game started on a rather gloomy note, with Nigeria winger Moses Simon colliding with an opponent, an incident that left the duo seriously injured and needing urgent treatment.

With both players back on the pitch, the Eagles started the brighter of the two sides with their high pressing style which saw them establish wonderful cohesion and rhythm in the game.

However, it was the home side that showed more determination towards scoring when skipper, Tony Tsabedze, kept his effort on target from over 20 yards.

Both sides continued attacking but were unable to find a breakthrough as the first half faded away.

In the second-half, Simon hit the woodwork from a superbly taken free kick in the 58 minutes.

Efe Ambrose also had a couple of chances at goal but was unable to control his header on target.

Oliseh then brought in Rabiu Ibrahim for Sylvester Igboun, but the former youth international only lasted for 20 minutes as the coach thought he wasn’t impressed with the player.

Iheanacho was sent in while Martins finally ended his two-year absence from the national team when he replaced John Obi Mikel 15 minutes from regulation time.

The duo were unable to provide the spark as the home team continued to dominate play and looked more dangerous and likely to score.

With the draw, Oliseh has now failed to win his second competitive game as coach of Nigeria after a goalless draw with Tanzania in an African Cup of Nations qualifier in September.

Both sides clash in Port Harcourt on Tuesday and anything other than victory could signal an end to Nigeria’s World Cup dreams.