Ahead of this friendly, coach Gernot Rohr made a few changes from the squad that beat Seychelles just a few days ago. He brought in four players from Nigeria’s national football league (NPFL) and a number of young internationals for their Super Eagles cap. The focus before kick-off was to see which of these promising players could raise their game and show they are ready to play for Nigeria in their future games.
Of course, the main reason for this game was to celebrate the career of the legendary Liberian striker and new president of the country, George Weah, by officially retiring his number fourteen jersey. He is still the only African player to ever win the Ballon d’Or. The star of the night himself led his Lone Stars out and onto the pitch, wearing his number 14 jersey. One of his old teammates, James Debbah was also there. Once the match began, Weah was cheered from the stands every time he would touch the ball.
For this encounter, John Ogu got the responsibility of leading the Eagles as team captain. The starting eleven were: Ikechukwu Ezenwa, John Ogu (C), Jamilu Collins, Ndidi Wilfred, Semi Ajayi, Chidozie Awaziem, Joel Chukwuma Obi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Kelechi Nwakali, Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo.
The Super Eagles were attacking from the start and managed to score the first goal in the 11th minute, through a Henry Onyekuru goal. The got another goal in the 33rd minute when Simeon Nwankwo headed the ball home after a corner kick. That was the score at halftime. Coach Rohr made seven changes at halftime. That resulted in the Nigerians attacking with more veracity, especially in the first part of the second half. Eagles had a lot of chances in front of goal but weren’t efficient enough to score which is exactly what the coach criticized them for after the match against Seychelles. Just before the final whistle, and to the satisfaction of the home crowd, Liberia got a penalty for a handball which they converted to finish the game 2:1 for Nigeria.
While this was an exhibition match, it was an important test for the Super Eagles, ahead of their back to back matches against Libya in the AFCON 2019 qualifying group. Nigeria have to earn at least four points from these matches if they are to compete with South Africa for the top place in Group E.