Over 30,000 Nigerians at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, on Sunday ( November 8), watched as their strongly- fancied national team played out a goal-less draw with Congo-Brazzaville.
Over 30,000 Nigerians at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, on Sunday ( November 8), watched as their strongly- fancied national team played out a goal-less draw with Congo-Brazzaville. It was the first leg on the first round tie of the African Nations Soccer Cup.
The Nigerian "Green Eagles" kicked off brightly and put early pressure on the Congolese. The early promise of forwards Shittu and Nwobodo failed to materialise into goals.
Although the Nigerians began with some flowing football, as the game progressed their lack of adequate preparation was exposed. The Congolese, realising that their defence was easily containing the Nigerian thrusts, began to probe further into the Nigerian half.
The cautious congolese play gave away to bold attacking strokes and on several occasions they were unlucky not to alter the score-line. Their short-passing unsettled the Nigerians and Garba Okoe's through passes were not finding the Nigerian forwards. The further the game went on the more likely it seemed that the Congolese, far from hanging on to a draw, would snatch the one goal which could win the match. The Congolese defence was playing remarkably well, containing each Nigerian offensive.
From the basis of their tight defence, the Congolese began to challenge the Nigerians for the midfield. For long periods of the match this was a fascinating struggle for the spectators, the outcome of which could certainly have tipped the scales. But this confrontation, like the match itself, failed to produce a decisive result.
The Congolese must obviously feel confident about their chances of beating the Nigerians in the second leg to be played in Brazzaville in November 22. The Nigerian hope is that they will have learnt enough from this match to play themselves out of trouble and into the second round. The winners will meet the winners of the first round Ivory Coast-Gabon tie.