Nigeria 1 Vs DR Congo: Super Eagles labour through farewell friendly

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Ogenyi Onazi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Oghenekaro Etebo

The Super Eagles laboured to a 1-1 draw against DR Congo in Port Harcourt on Monday.

Words from the camp that the Super Eagles were unhappy over the movement from Uyo to Port Harcourt.

Moving from the serene and now comfortable base of the Le Meridien Hotel and Godswill Akpabio International Stadium to the compact rooms of Le Meridien Ogeyi Place in Port Harcourt.

They were also not familiar with the  Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt. They didn’t even train there, choosing rather to practise at the Shell Estate training pitch on Sunday, May 27.

The Super Eagles players only got to see the patchy pitch of the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium two hours before the game.

But they needed to do this, to say thank you and farewell to Nigerians and garner more support ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Port Harcourt was outside of their comfort zone and not out of their own choice but this is where the 2018 World Cup journey started.

In November 2015, Moses Simon and Efe Ambrose netted to give Nigeria a 2-0 win over Swaziland to progress to the group stage of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

So in their last game in Nigeria just before the 2018 World Cup, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had chosen Port Harcourt and the players had to do it.

Match details

The Super Eagles started well, Simy Nwankwo, the Crotone striker making his debut for the Super Eagles of Nigeria dribbled a Congolese defender before letting go a left-footed shot which hit the bar.

It was the start the Port Harcourt crowd needed and they cheered heavily.

 

A Kelechi Iheanacho follow-up shot was deflected for a corner.

The DR Congo attack, led by former Arsenal starlet Benik Afobe were looking to give Nigeria a strange send-off to Russia but Francis Uzoho was alert to save a shot with his leg in the seventh minute.

Oghenekaro Etebo caused trouble in the DR Congo box with a free kick but an Iheanacho follow-up shot was weak.

In the 15th minute, the Super Eagles got their goal.

 

Iheanacho ran over a freekick and received the overlay, although he couldn’t control it properly, William Troost-Ekong bundled the loose-ball into the net for his first Super Eagles goal.

He celebrated by putting the ball under his shirt, a tribute to his pregnant girlfriend.

DR Congo were up for it now and just a minute later, Leon Balogun had to make a last-ditch clearance to stop the Super Eagles from conceding.

At this point, it was clear the Super Eagles players wanted this game over. The pitch was bumpy while the Congolese presented a huge physical test.

 

In the 34th minute, captain of the day Ogenyi Onazi played a through ball to Iheanacho who could not put enough effort behind the ball to beat the DR Congo goalkeeper.

Afobe sneaked a short which went wide to end the first half.

In the second, Ola Aina who had come on for Elderson Echiejile shot wide after a good pass from another substitute Alex Iwobi.

 

Nwankwo was being a problem to the DR Congo defence and in the 56th minute, got a header from a throwing which was saved by the goalkeeper.

Balogun was unlucky twice, narrowly missing the target with his headers from set-pieces.

Afobe had another chance in the 63rd minute,  chesting the ball in the area while bundling Troost-Ekong off his way before shooting at goal but Uzoho was alert to keep it out.

Simy passed well to Etebo in the box but the midfielder went just a few inches wide with his effort.

Uzoho was having a good evening and had several saves in the second half.

 

The Super Eagles were taking it slow, playing out for a narrow win before Aina brought down a DR Congo just a little outside the box but the referee pointed to the spot.

Uzoho could not do anything about the penalty and 1-1 it was.

Aina, eager to make up for his mistake, made a good run into the box immediately play resumed and passed to Ahmed Musa who dummied for Iwobi whose shot hit the post.

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