Once again the Super Eagles failed to manage a lead won off the powerful nod of midfielder, Gabriel Reuben in the 89th minute in yesterday's World Cup qualifier against the Flames of Malawi inside the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre no thanks to the bizzare goalkeeping by stand-in captain, Vincent Enyeama.
Both the Eagles and the Nigerian delegation led by President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Alhaji Aminu Maigari were still on their feet celebrating the late goal that could have earned them maximum points for an unassailable lead of the group when a horrendous mistake by Enyeama gave Malawi's substitute John Banda pulled off the painful draw.
Enyeama had a simple job to do to push away a floated ball in the area, after hollering at his defenders to leave the ball for him. But he went for the ball with only one hand and fumbled, leaving the Malawians with a heaven-sent opportunity to earn a point on the day.
Like in the Calabar game against Namibia, the Eagles had many begging chances but they either fluffed them or the Flames' goalkeeper, Simplex Nthara proved too impregnable for the Eagles attack led by Ikechukwu Uche who missed two glaring opportunities.
Despite Enyeama's error, he was at his best at a point to punch over a vicious shot by Chimango Kayira while a few moments later just as Nigerians were on their feet to celebrate a goal when Uche freed himself to a one-on-one with Nthara, the goalkeeper saved it.
It was heartbreaking for the Nigerian delegation as Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn blew off the game with Maigari, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, Chris Green, Chairman NFF technical committee and the NFF scribe, Musa Amadu, all voicing out their frustrations. "It is unfortunate that they (Malawi) scored with that last touch and denied us three points. But I believe our boys did well considering the fact that this team is work-in-progress.
"We would have loved the three points, which appeared to be in the bag, but we must look ahead and plan how to win the remaining four games in order to qualify for the last round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers,"Alhaji Maigari rued.
A shocked Chief Onigbinde, a CAF Technical Committee member said,. "This is a case of two points lost. We had the three points. I don't understand why Enyeama didn't allow his defender to head the ball away."
Barrister Green who was in the advance party to Blantyre to prepare grounds for the Eagles said,"The equalizer was very painful. Three points would have been just reward for our hard work today. But we cannot be crying over spilt milk," just as Barrister Amadu, who was also pained said, "We were already on our feet to celebrate three points. This kind of thing can be painful. After Gabriel Reuben scored, we should have found a way to keep the advantage."