Nigeria’s Super Eagles ended their 2018 World Cup campaign unbeaten, battling to a 1-1 draw against the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a game that was marred by a poor refereeing decision.
In a game with nothing at stake other than pride, it was the feisty and controversial climax to the end of the game that produced the highlights of the game.
Goals from John Ogu and Yacine Brahimi earned the points for the two countries who shared the spoils from the game.
It was a game that looked to be going Nigeria’s way until the errors of Gabon’s Eric Arnaud Otogo Castane who was the match official changed the outcome.
First was the non-sending off on Brahimi after he headbutted Shehu Abdullahi, and then going on to award a bizarre penalty in the 86th minute despite Abdullahi not impeded Brahimi whatsoever.
There was hardly any free flow of the game because of the bad nature of the pitch at the Mohammed Hamalaoui Stadium in Constantine, which affected both teams who couldn’t take control of the game.
Leon Balogun who captained Nigeria for the first time, didn’t have much joy in the first half, giving away possessions but eventually grew into the game with better displays in the second half.
Anthony Nwakaeme tried a speculative strike from range and was almost at the end of the Kelechi Iheanacho’s free kick which nearly found its way past Chaochi.
The pitch was so bad that when Alex Iwobi made a dashing run through the right flank at the start of the second half, the final ball was lacking as the ball couldn’t transit smoothly to the intended target.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa dropped the ball thereby gifting Algeria an opportunity to take the lead but Mandy couldn’t head down into an open post and the Super Eagles quickly capitalized.
Iwobi swung in a cross that was not properly cleared by the Algerian defence and the rebound falling nicely to Ogu who belted in a left footed curler for the opening goal.
Nigeria took their eyes off the ball and Algeria had a chance to level after Ezenwa couldn’t clear a cross, the ball fell to Islam Slimani and surprisingly his effort sailed across for a goal-kick, despite the Leicester player having an open goal to slot in the ball.
The Algerians were evidently frustrated and were losing their temper as the game wore on but it was the poor referee decisions that changed the really dented the game.
All in all, the Super Eagles will be delighted having finished the World Cup qualifiers without a loss, and stretching their impressive run to 37 matches unbeaten in the World Cup qualifiers.
The Super Eagles team will head out to Russia to prepare for their friendly game against Algeria on Tuesday.