By John Egbokhan
Nigeriaâ€™s Super Eagles, yesterday in Durban, failed to fly against Zambiaâ€™s Chipolopolo, who held their West Africans foes to a barren draw in a warm-up match for the African Cup of Nations, kicking off this weekend in Angola.
Few days after labouring to a 1-0 win against a second tier side from South Africa at the same venue, the Nigerians were expected to shore up their performance as the countdown to the Nations Cup reaches its final stage but they got more than they bargained for in a Zambian side, who showed more hunger and determination in snuffing life out of Eaglesâ€™s attacking forays. In fact, it ended goalless, but Eagles were at the receiving end as Zambians were harder on the ball and against them.
Coach Shaibu Amodu filed his regulars for this match, the last in the series of games used to prep up the team and they all still failed to breach their foesâ€™ defence, throughout the duration of the game.
According to information gleaned from the match venue, the Zambians were resolute in their approach to the match, which was to prevent the Nigerians from having the space to play any passing game. Indeed, to ensure that the Eagles were caged, the Zambians markers were chasing every ball as they even went as far as hustling down their foes, when the situation demanded for such.
And their strategy worked in their good as they were able to hold one of theÂ teams expected to light up the competition.
Although it was a friendly affair, the importance which Zambia attached to this tie was such that they celebrated the draw with the 2004 champions of the tournament, which the Nigerians won at the expense of Zambia, who fell 2-1, thanks to goals from Emmanuel Amuneke, who came in as a substitute after Zambia had shot to a 1-0 lead.
Media coordinator for the team, Idah Peterside, said that it was a good test for the Eagles as they finalise their preparations for the Nations Cup campaign, which gets underway with a tough match against Egypt on January 12.
â€œThey were kicking us right, left and centre. It was a difficult game but a good preparation match for us,â€ Peterside said.