The Nigeria Super Eagles on Friday in Kumasi held the Black Stars of Ghana to a goaless draw in the first leg of their 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the titanic clash played at the Baba Yara Stadium saw Ghana dominate proceedings roared on by a raucous home crowd.
The Black Stars started the first half on the front foot as they piled pressure on the Nigerian defence marshalled by captain William Trost-Ekong.
The best chance of the half fell to Ghana’s Abdul Fatawu Issahaku whose shot from just outside the penalty box was saved by Nigeria’s goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, while the resulting corner kick was wasted by the Stars.
Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen and Joe Aribo had opportunity to open the scoring late in the half forcing Joojo Wollacott into action while Aribo’s strike went over the crossbar.
Nigeria grew into the game and enjoyed a bright spell just before the break when Kelechi Iheanacho very nearly got on the end of a cross at the back post, before Victor Osimhen sent a tame volley at goal that was saved.
Ghana had much of the possession but were also not clinical in front of goal.
On resumption of the second half, the rampaging stars started with more aggression but were repelled by the Nigerian defence as Leon Balogun stood tall.
In spite of several attempts, Ghana failed to find the back of the net with a Mohammed Kudus strike being pushed away by the Nigerian shot-stopper.
Nigeria’s best chance of the game came in the 55th minute when Simon Moses was put through on goal, but with the goalkeeper at his mercy, the Nantes man lacked the composure in front of goal.
Moses who was later substituted with 18 minutes left to play, shot straight at the goalkeeper, who saved with his foot.
In the 76th minute of the game, Nigeria felt they had a clear chance to go ahead after they were awarded a penalty with Baba Iddrisu’s hand ball spotted by the centre referee.
However, the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) came to the rescue of Ghana, spotting a foul on the Ghanaian defensive midfielder.
Coach Augustine Eguavoen ringed the changes in the midfield and forward line but the Eagles still could not cage their bitter rivals in the “jollof derby”.
Leicester City’s Ademola Lookma was introduced for his Nigeria debut after completing his switch from England but it was too little too late.
The Eagles will have it all to play for in the return leg on Tuesday at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium for a place at the 2022 World Cup.(NAN)