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Unyielding Uganda holds Super Eagles in Asaba


Nigeria’s Semi Ajayi (middle) keeps Uganda in check during their international friendly match at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba…yesterday.

Uganda were as stubborn as ever in Asaba yesterday when they met Nigeria in an international friendly at the Stephen Keshi Stadium. The Ugandans were the first team to beat Nigeria at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium Uyo when they left the arena with a 1-0 victory. Yesterday in the Super Eagles’ first game in Asaba, the Ugandans held their ground even though they did not threaten a repeat of that infamous night in 2015.

Coach Gernot Rohr gave starting shirts to five fringe players, including Victor Osimhen, the former U-17 World Cup winner, who is gradually recovering his groove in the Belgian League after a failed adventure in Germany. There were also starting slots for Villarreal’s new sensation, Samuel Chukwueze, Mikel Agu, Daniel Akpeyi and Semi Ajayi, who paired with John Ogu in the central defence.

With Alex Iwobi and Oghenekaro Etebo running the show in the midfield, the Asaba fans expected the Super Eagles to crown the day with goals. But despite their control of the game, the Eagles failed to score, with Osimhen missing chances that showed he still has some way to go in the senior game.

Uganda had the game’s first real chance, but Derrick Nsimambi, after beating John Ogu from a long ball, went for the spectacular overhead kick, playing the ball wide of the goal area.

The Super Eagles reacted and came close when Osimhen was put through on goal by Mikel Agu, but the Sporting Charleroi striker dithered and lost possession to the Ugandan defence.

The Super Eagles had two quick chances to score through an Oghenekaro Etebo shot and a header from Osimhen, but both opportunities were squandered.

Rohr introduced Samuel Kalu and Isaac Success in the second half, but the duo could not affect the game differently. He also threw in Henry Onyekuru and Kelechi Iheanacho for Ahmed Musa and John Ogu in search of the winner, but the Ugandans held their own.

The Asaba game was both countries first exertion following their qualification for the Cameroun 2019 African Nations Cup. The Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw by South Africa’s Bafana Bafana at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg to be sure of a ticket from Group E ahead of the final matchday, while the Cranes pipped Cape Verde 1-0 in Kampala to be sure of finishing as Group L winners.

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