Cranes Hold Eagles in Asaba

 Cranes Hold Eagles in Asaba

Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze and the marauding runs of Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi, as well as the support of home fans, was just not enough as the Super Eagles were held 0-0 by a highly physical Uganda side in a friendly played at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on Tuesday.German coach Gernot Rohr handed Villarreal youngster Chukwueze, who was on the bench for Saturday’s 2019 AFCON qualifier in Johannesburg against South Africa, his international debut against the Ugandans, spotting the number 10 jersey.

Charleroi striker Victor Osimhen also returned to the starting line-up as lone striker, as Rohr reverted to his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.But it was Uganda who first came close to opening score after just 10 minutes, but Derrick Nsimambi saw his powerful effort fly far and wide off the Nigerian goal.

Jamilu Collins then raced down the left wing beating an opponent before beautifully laying a cross for Osimhen, whose glancing header inside the box narrowly missed target.

Debutant Chukwueze was the fans favourite as he dazzled with his left foot from the right wing, leaving the East African defenders helpless time and time again.

The Eagles kept searching for the opening goal, with Rohr bringing in William Troost-Ekong, Samuel Kalu and Isaac Success.

Kalu tested the Uganda defence, while both Mikel Agu and Success had some chances, but the Cranes kept their cool to hold on for a deserved goalless draw.

Both countries had qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations following Matchday 5 games at the weekend but they had pride at stake in Asaba. Both teams had met seven times prior to Tuesday’s game, with the Cranes having an upper hand having emerged victorious on four occasions.

Indeed, in their last encounter three years ago in Uyo, the Ugandans beat the Eagles 1-0 courtesy of Farouk Miya’s powerful header to spoil former goalkeeper and captain Vincent Enyeama’s fun on his 100th appearance for the national team

Ayomide Oyewole

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