Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has expressed his delight at the goalless draw his team played against Sierra Leone in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Tuesday.
The game was the first time that the Eagles did not concede a goal since defeating Tunisia 1-0 in the third place game of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt last July.
They also failed to win a game in 2020 recording three draws and losing one.
Rohr kept faith with most of the players who started the game in Benin, keeping Maduka Okoye in goal and Kevin Akpoguma as right back.
His only changes were Ola Aina who came in for Zaidu Sanusi at left-back and Kelechi Iheanacho who replaced injured Victor Osimhen.
The Leicester forward had Eagles best chance in the game, after his curling effort in the 82nd minute was parried by the Sierra Leonean goalkeeper Mohamed Kamara.
Iheanacho had earlier found the back of the net in the 61st minute, but the goal didn’t count, as the referee had already blown his whistle for offside.
The Eagles were forced to make an early substitution in the 36th minute, after Oghenekaro Etebo got injured and was replaced by Shehu Abdullahi.
Ahmed Musa was the only player to be booked, entering the referee’s book in the 72nd minute.
After the first-half substitution of Etebo, Rohr also replaced Akpoguma with Chidozie Awaziem in the 73rd minute, while Emmanuel Dennis and Semi Ajayi came in for Iheanacho and Joe Aribo respectively with seven minutes of regulation time left to be played.
“It’s a long time that we had a goalless defence and we wanted to be solid after what happened in the second half the other day and I am especially very happy for our goalkeeper who showed to everybody that he is a good one. We have a young team and it was a shock the othe day after the injury of victor Osimhen, everybody was afraid.
“Today, they wanted to fight for him, they did it, they fought very well and I think that this draw keeps us top of the table, we have to play another two games now against Benin and Lesotho.
“Normally, it is not official, but we are very close now to qualification, we saw also the result of Benin who played a draw in Lesotho. All the games are difficult, there are no little opponents. Everybody were organised today.
“On this difficult pitch we tried to play football, I don’t know if the goal was offside or not, but we tried to play on this difficult pitch. Congratulation to the players, they showed they can fight together and get a goalles draw away,” Rohr said after the game.
With the goalless draw, the Eagles still stay top of Group L with eight points, one ahead of second-placed Benin Republic who also played a goalless draw at Lesotho. Sierra Leone are third with three points, while Lesotho sit in the bottom of the group with two points from four matches.
The Eagles will travel to Benin Republic for their match-day five fixture, knowing a win will secure qualification for the AFCON, while Lesotho host the Leone Stars.
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