Nigeria pip Sierra Leone

by George Akpayen

Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Wednesday defeated their Sierra Leonean counterparts, the Leone Stars, by 2 – 1 inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos in an international friendly.

It was the 21st meeting between the two West African sides and Nigeria with superior head-to-head stats deservedly won the match through goals from Taye Taiwo and Ehiosun Ekigho before Mohammed Kalia pulled one back for the visiting side late in the tie.

Pic: Joel Obi

The Nigerian side started off fastest with Emmanuel Emenike making his debut, just like Michael Odibe and Joel Obi, failed to hit a pass from Osaze Odemwingie inside the first minute of play.

The Sierra Leoneans came close to scoring when captain Joseph Yobo deflected a cross, which nearly beat Dele Aiyenugba, who tipped it out for a corner.

From that point, it was the Nigerians calling the shots with Taiwo’s sixth minute shot from 30 yards punched away by Leone Stars’ goalkeeper, John Trye followed by Emenike’s failure to connect Odemwingie’s low cross inside the opponents’ goal area two minutes later.

Odemwingie also had his curling free kick punched away by Trye just as Peter Utaka failed to score after he was freed one-on-one with the keeper.

But on 15 minutes, Utaka was fouled inside the Sierra Leonean goal area and Taiwo stepped up to slot home the ball from the penalty spot to the bottom left corner of keeper Trye to give Nigeria the lead.

The Super Eagles after that goal took charge of the game and VVV-Venlo attacking winger, Ahmed Musa, got into his element and ran down the Sierra Leonean defence with his pace.

On 40 minutes, Warri Wolves’ marksman, Ekigho, replaced injured Emenike and did not waste time in scoring on his debut inside added time of the first half.

The current top scorer of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) flicked home Obi’s cross for the Eagles’ second goal of the night leaving keeper Trye with no answer.

However, the second half was an insipid performance from the Nigerian side though players in the NPL such as Julius Ubido, Osas Okoro and Abdulwasiu Showemimo were handed their first appearances for their country.

On 70 minutes, West Bromwich Albion striker, Odemwingie, thought he had scored Nigeria’s third after nodding away Musa’s cross but the referee adjudged him to be in an offside position.

And just on the stroke of time, Sierra Leone pulled one back through Kalia, whose shot hit the roof of the net leaving goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba with no chance.

In their usual style, the Lagos fans booed their national team all through the four minutes of added time for conceding a late goal but Samson Siasia’s men held on to earn a slim win.
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