Eagles rally to 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone
• Abuja pitch is a national disgrace, says Obuh
Nigeria, yesterday, rallied form a one-goal deficit to beat Sierra Leone 2-1 in their opening Group A match of the Cote d’Ivoire 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The match, played on the bumpy MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja, pitch, saw the Sierra Leoneans dictating the pace in the early minutes.
Nigeria’s attacking trio of Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon and Samuel Chukwueze, were all over the pitch looking for assistance from a midfield that could not withstand fast paced Leone Stars, who found the Abuja field easier to thread on.
Earlier, Nigeria was particularly uncoordinated in defence and it was no surprise when the Sierra Leoneans capitalised on the Eagles’ loose marking to register the first goal through John Morsay’s 11th minute strike.
Minutes later, Sierra Leone would hit the post after yet another break and the Nigerian defence looked shambolic. But the tide suddenly changed midway into the first half.
With Nigeria finding more space in the middle, Alex Iwobi combined with Moses Simon before placing a lovely shot across goal to level the scores before Osimhen would fire home a winner five minutes before half-time.
Chukwueze was guilty of missing a brilliant chance to wrap the game up but Jose Peseiro’s reign in charge would get off to a winning – if unconvincing – start.
Meanwhile, former Flying Eagles Coach, John Obuh, has described the state of the MKO Abiola Stadium as a big national disgrace.
Obuh, who wondered why the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would allow the AFCON qualifier to hold in Abuja in spite of the pitch’s poor condition, said that the poor field affected the Eagles’ performance in the encounter.
He said the Eagles were only able to beat Sierra Leone because they are experienced and committed campaigners.
“I am disappointed that the new Abuja pitch that was just regrassed by Dangote a few months ago is damaged to this extent.
“Nigeria is a footballing nation and it is a national disgrace playing on such a pitch. I don’t understand why NFF took the game to Abuja, they might have their reason. But it is not a good omen for Nigeria playing a big match like the AFCON qualifier on the pitch.”
Dangote and other stakeholders, who contributed in restoring the Abuja pitch, will be disappointed on its current state,” he said.