Just a few days after cementing their place in the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroon, Nigeria met Uganda in a friendly game at the Stephen Keshi stadium in Asaba, Nigeria in their last match in 2018.
The two sides have played against each other seven times before this match. Uganda is more successful, with four wins, including the 1:0 win in the last match they played. Nigeria have won twice, while one game was a goalless draw. Both Uganda and Nigeria have secured qualification for the AFCON 2019, so this was going to be a non-pressure game. The Ugandans haven’t conceded a single goal so far in qualifying, so Nigeria will have to be creative in front of goal in order to beat their defence led by the goalkeeper Jamal Salim Magoola.
Coach Gernot Rohr made a few changes to the starting line up. Daniel Akpeyi started in goal, with Sami Ajayi and John Ogu in front of him as central defenders. Jamilu Collins and Brian Idowu made up the rest of the defence as left back and right back. Mikel Agu came in to play alongside Oghenekaro Etebo as a defensive midfielder. Alex Iwobi started in his usual creator role with Ahmed Musa and the debutant Samuel Chukwueze on the wings while Victor Osimhen would be leading from the front.
The Super Eagles dominated in the first half but couldn’t get a shot on goal. Victor Osimhen was in with a couple of chances but headed the ball wide both times. Straight after the break, Coach Rohr made three changes, taking Osimhen, Etebo and Chukwueze out and putting William Troost-Ekong, Samuel Kalu and Isaac Success Ajayi in. And it changed the game for the better. Nigeria attacked more and were looking to create good openings.
After 68 minutes, it was time for Captain Ahmed Musa to give way to Moses Simon. Rohr made two more changes after that, sending Henry Onyekuru in for Alex Iwobi and substituting John Ogu with Kelechi Iheanacho a few minutes before the final whistle. But, even after dominating the possession of the ball, the Super Eagles couldn’t create a good enough chance to force the keeper to make some saves. In the end, the Cranes should be happy to have finished the game without conceding a goal.
The next and last qualifier for the Super Eagles is in March 2019, against Seychelles, which will probably serve as another training match ahead of the AFCON 2019.