It was a very sad evening for football loving Nigerians with a battling performance that came short of earning the 2022 FIFA World Cup ticket for Nigeria as the Super Eagles drew 1-1 with Black Stars of Ghana in their playoff final battle at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium Abuja.
Both teams played a 0-0 draw in Kumasi on Friday.
The Super Eagles set out with great belief in front of a full house at the 60,491 –capacity stadium, and Emmanuel Dennis shaded three defenders only to overhit his cross in the 8th minute.
Ghana shocked the 60,000 cheering spectators when Thomas Partey unleased a shot from 20 yards that surprisingly went past goalkeeper Francis Uzoho into the net for the first goal of the fixture.
Victor Osimhen came close to equalizing a minute after but dragged his shot too wide, and in the 19th minute, a fierce tussle in the Ghanaian box ended with Tunisian referee Selmi Sadok awarding a penalty kick to Nigeria, where William Troost Ekong stepped up to send goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott the wrong way.
In the 34th minute, Nigeria thought they had taken the lead when Victor Osimhen ran hard on a floated ball from Oghenekaro Etebo and got past Wollacott to slot into the net, but a VAR check by referee Sadok ruled out the strike. On the stroke of half time, a cut back by Dennis was safely dealt with by Wollacott.
The Eagles struggled to create many chances in the second half. A floater by Ademola Lookman in the 50th minute was caught by Wollacott. Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and Osimhen on two occasions, missed narrowly as the Eagles failed to get the goal they needed to turn the table.
Ghana qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup showpiece in Qatar on the away goal rule.