A wingless Super Eagles team managed by Sunday Oliseh could only manage a goalless draw against Tanzania in their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification match at the National Stadium, in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
It was the first official game for Oliseh as the head coach of the Super Eagles.
Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme and Russian-based midfielder Izunna Uzochukwu were handed debuts with the duo of Haruna Lukman and Obiora Nwankwo returning to the senior national side after some months in the wilderness.
The first real chance of the game was missed by Nigeria. Skillful Moses Simon was brought down and the resultant free-kick to Emmanuel Emenike was wasted.
Tanzania upped the tempo, putting pressure on the three-time African champions.
The lively Mbwana Samatta forced a save from Ikeme after he ghosted past Solomon Kwambe. It was perhaps the best chance of the action packed game in the opening thirteen minutes.
Samatta was at it again with his header too weak to trouble impressive Ikeme.
For about ten minutes, the Super Eagles were left chasing shadows with coach Sunday Oliseh not too happy with his boys’ performance.In the 28th minute, skipper Ahmed Musa delivered a well constructed shot after he was set-up by Emenike.
The homers had a strong penalty appeal turned down by the match referee on the half-hour mark.
Taifa Stars were in need of the opener and were urged on by their die hard fans.
Coach Oliseh clearly showed his displeasure with the performance of Haruna Lukman. The former Golden Eaglets skipper made way for Slyvester Igboun who was handed his international debut for Nigeria in the 36th minute.
The hosts were nearly punished for a defensive blunder but Moses couldn’t utilise the opportunity that came his way.
Nigeria conjured up one final chance in first-half stoppage time, but Emenike’s speculative effort was easily held by goalkeeper Mustapha.
The Super Eagles were much more improved after the break with Emenike leading the charge.
Musa was put through on goal by Emenike but the CSKA Moscow forward couldn’t deliver a good cross to his team-mates. His final ball was poor.
On the hour mark, Tanzania were almost in front. It took a timely tackle to stop them.
A criminal miss by Tanzania summed up a wasteful afternoon for them. Ngasa Mrisho headed wide in front of an empty goal.
Thomas Ulimwengu then forced another save from impressive Ikeme who held the low shot at a second attempt. The England-based goalie enjoyed a brilliant game on his international debut for Nigeria.
Five minutes from time, substitute Eduok got a rare Nigeria chance as he tried to chip the ball over goalkeeper Mustapha.
Oliseh didn’t exactly get off to a flying start in charge of the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles were the happier of the two teams to get a point on the road as the Taifa Stars were clearly the better side.
With yesterday’s draw against Tanzania, the Super Eagles now top the group with four points.
Egypt will however, overtake Nigeria at the summit of the standings if they defeat Chad on Sunday at Stade Omnisports Idriss Mahamat Ouya, N’Djamena.