The much touted improvement promised by Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, before yesterday’s international friendly against the Carthage Eagles failed to materialise as Nigeria laboured to a 1-1 draw with Tunisia in their second international friendly match in Austria.
When Nigeria lost by a lone goal to Algeria on Friday, the coaches said the defeat was a dent caused by the unavailability of some key players and the little time the squad had to blend. Rohr promised Nigerians a new vibrant Eagles, saying the team had corrected their mistakes and was ready to feast on Tunisia.
That was not the case yesterday at the Jacques Lemans Arena in the Austrian city of St. Veit an der Glan.
The Eagles flattered to deceive in the first half with Kelechi Iheanacho giving Nigeria the lead in the 21st minute. It was Iheanacho’s first goal for his country in three years.
With Nigeria in the ascendancy, the Leicester of England star had the opportunity to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead when Skipper Ahmed Musa was brought down by Tunisia’s goalkeeper, Farouk Ben Mustapha, in the box. The former Manchester City star, however, fluffed the resultant penalty kick, as Mustapha had no problem gathering his poorly taken kick.
With the reprieve, the Tunisians grew in confidence and seized the initiative from the Eagles. They got their deserved equaliser in the 44th minute through Dragier Mohamed, who made hay from a Rafia Hamza.
The Super Eagles withdrew to their shelf in the second half, giving the Tunisians the chance to probe for a winner.
In a bid to rejuvenate his side, Rohr brought in Chidozie Awaziem, Jamilu Collins, Cyriel Dessers and Chidera Ejuke for Kelvin Akpoguma, Zaidu Sanusi, Ahmed Musa and Samuel Chukwueze. But the changes did not change the flow of the game.
The Tunisians had the chance of grabbing the winner late in the game but for an agile goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, who tipped a tricky lob from Ben Slimane Anis over the bar.
The Eagles were without William Troost-Ekong and Bordeaux’s Samuel Kalu, who left Austria yesterday for their various clubs.
Victor Osimhen, Wilfried Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo had earlier withdrawn from the squad due for various reasons.