The Super Eagles got a dose of what to expect at the SA 2013 Nations Cup next month when they were held to a 1-1 draw by gritty Nigeria Premier League side, Nasarawa United on Thursday morning in Abuja.
The Nasarawa side managed by veteran coach Alphonsus Dike, played their hearts out in the encounter but it was the national team that showed more maturity and should have easily won the game but for the several begging chances that were wasted.
The Eagles featured Femi Thomas, Solomon Kwambe, Benjamin Francis, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwueke, Gabriel Reuben, Sunday Mba, Fegor Ogude, Tony Okputu, Ejike Uzoenyi and Gambo Mohammed in the first half and changed all the players for a new set of 11 players in the second.
In the early part of the game, the Eagles dominated and should have been at least two goals up in the first ten minutes but the chances that came their way were wasted by Mba, Reuben and Gambo. In the 18th minute, a defensive mix-up by the national team allowed Nasarawa's Ibrahim Ibrahim to steal in the opener of the game to the shock of the motley crowd that watched the game.
The goal was to change the tempo of the game as the Eagles upped their game in search of an equalizer. Their pressure paid off, when a Nasarawa defender held a goal bound shot and Referee AnieteUkoh promptly pointed to the spot. Mba scored the equalizer in the 44th minute.
The new set of Eagles in the second half like Gomo Onduko, Ubale Mannir, Papa Idris, Henry Uche, Chibuzor Okonkwo, Zango Umar and goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, seemed to have more fluidity in the second half but the Nasarawa side kept it tight at the back to run away with a 1-1, draw. After the game a not too happy Stephen Keshi sent the players back to the pitch for another 20 minutes of physical drilling.
Nasarawa handler, Dike, said he was impressed with the quality of players that have been picked for the national assignment but admonished the team handlers to work on the concentration level of the players. "The players were quite good and among the best in the country but the need to improve in the area of concentration because that was what caused the goal my team scored against them".