Nigeria vs Tanzania 2016.Nigeria defeated Tanzania 1-0 on Saturday evening after a high tempo 2017 African Nations qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio stadium, Uyo.
It was an opportunity for new foreign technical adviser Gernot Rohr to see his new squad & evaluate them ahead of Russia 2018 qualifiers as Nigeria had already missed out on AFCON 2017 qualification so the matched bared no significance to the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles attack was dominated by Premier League stars – Mikel, Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Watford), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City) and Ahmed Musa (Leicester City)
Iheanacho had an early chance in the second minute but fluffed his lines at the beginning of the match after Tanzania started the kick off.
Nigeria had a free kick in the 5th minute and after some indecision as to who will take it between Mikel Obi and Victor Moses , Moses flashed the free kick into the side netting.
Ahmed Musa then dribbled through two defenders and gave a stylish through pass to Moses which he wasted by playing a lazy shot to the Tanzanian goalkeeper Aishi Manuli.
Nigeria were still pressing in the first ten minutes of the match and Ahmed Musa after a cut back from Mikel Obi made a lazy shot at the goalkeeper. The Nigerian team were showing some energy but Ahmed Musa, Ighalo and Moses weren't showing enough finesse in front of goal.
The Tanzanians gave the Super Eagles backline a scare but the ruffle was quickly shut out by Carl Ikeme and Leon Balogun.
In the 24th minute, Iheanacho had a chance in front of goal and chose precision rather than power as his curling left footed shot was punched away by Manuli.
Nigeria continued to dominate and Mikel gave a wonderful pass to Moses who shot for the sky, as he wasted another precious opportunity to open the scoreline.
Iheanacho gave a pass to Odion Ighalo, who had been wasteful up till this moment and the Ajegunle product while trying to dribble through a defendergot dispossesed.
All the while Mikel kept showing his class with well timed and creatively executed passes, but the front line kept wasting the ball.
Victor Moses with some good footwork made his way through the near post but the ball was saved by goalkeeper Manuli.
Victor Moses after a through ball wasted the ball again despite Iheanacho being open.
Nigeria had good intentions, pace on the wings and imagination but the decison making in the final third was lacking.
Ighalo in the 38th minute made his best effort in the match after he side-dummied a Tanzanian defender and shot at the goalkeeper resulting in a corner kick.
Tanzania came forward but couldn't negotiate past Leon Balogun and Carl Ikeme.
Tanzania's goalkeeper Manuli pulled another save from Ighalo, Balogun made a wonderful interception at Nigeria's back-line, then Manuli made another wonderful save from Iheanacho's left footed shot.
At the cusp of halftime the stadium erupted after some wonderful interplay and mazy run between Victor Moses and Nigeria's left back to which Moses shot over the net.
It was still a wonder as to how the Super Eagles were still being held to a draw by Tanzania as the Tanzanians were there for the taking.
Half Time! Nigeria 0-0 Tanzania
The second half started with still the same storyline.
Everyone had a shot at goal- from Iheanacho to Onazi, Moses and Ighalo. Mikel had three chances, one with his head and two with his legs but Manuli- definitely the man of the match made save upon save upon save.
Mikel, who dis everything he could to score in this match, was substituted for Wilfred Ndidi at the hour mark as Nigeria. Ndidi moved to defensive midfield while Onazi went to take up Mikel Obi's position.
Rohr will be hoping he gets his strikers to learn how to score during matches as Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria are totally different oppositions and will not give Nigeria as much space as Tanzania did in this match.
Ighalo was finally substituted for Ideye as coach Rohr aimed for more potency in front of goal.
After so much hustle and bustle, this was it. Goal!!!
Man City's Kelechi Iheancho finally broke the Manuli curse at the 78th minute. The left footed striker took the ball from the corner flag area and passed through a defender before shooting a powerfully placed shot into the net.
The Uyo stadium came alive! This was what Nigerians had been yearning for.
The Tanzanians started pressing forward, hoping to open up space and attack the Nigerians all to no avail. The partnership between William Troost Ekong and Leon balogun should also be commended, as they showed so much composure and tenacity at the backline.
Nigeria's new coach Gernot Rohr will be hoping that this win is the beginning of so many other wins as the Super Eagles aim for Russia 2018.
Photo credit: Super Sports