Two wrong offside calls by the centre referee, Bakary Gassama, from the Gambia were the saving grace for South Africa as they forced the Super Eagles to a 1-1 draw in their 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier, which sealed Nigeria’s passage to the tournament.
Ahmed Musa was wrongly flagged offside in the early exchanges just when he was through on goal but minutes later, the Eagles deservedly took the lead via an own goal after a Samuel Kalu cross was turned into the net by a South African defender.
Below is the rating of the players on parade for Nigeria.
Ikechukwu Ezenwa – He didn’t look entirely comfortable in goal and his handling was suspect when he had to but overall did okay. Wasn’t at fault for the goal scored by South Africa … 7/10
Kenneth Omeruo – Was caught out ball watching as Percy Tau ghosted past to lay on the equaliser. Apart from that glitch, he effectively handled the physical examination from Lebo Mothiba …6/10
Leon Balogun – His inactivity in the Premier League with Brighton did not show, as much as feared though he needed to make faster decisions with aerial balls in his direction… 6/10
William Troost-Ekong – Apart from when he and Omeruo were caught out by Tau’s brilliance, Ekong was solid and first to every 50/50 ball that had to be cleared. It must however be said that as the leader of that three-man defence, Ekong needs to improve communication with colleagues…6/10
Samuel Kalu – The Man of the Match on the Nigerian side. Played out of position as a wing-back, he ran the right flank like a commander and created the Nigerian goal by driving into the box…7.5/10
Jamilu Collins – Maybe the change to a back three and a wing-back role made his job more difficult because often in the match, he was caught out of position…5/10
John Ogu – He was solid in the centre of the pitch and a solid tackling ability that ensured the centre-backs were not put under too much pressure by the South African attackers… 6.5/10
Oghenekaro Etebo – Was just adequate as there was no sign of the driving runs from midfield and shots on goal …6/10
Alex Iwobi – The right adjective to describe Iwobi was that he was just poor. Lax in control, no sense of where his forward players were and a complete lack of a competitive edge as he was repeatedly robbed of the ball… 5/10
Kelechi Iheanacho – By far the worst player on the pitch for Nigeria in the first half. His heavy touch denied him the chance to give Nigeria the lead before the half time break. A very poor display by his standard… 5/10
Ahmed Musa – He was denied a goal and an assist by the Gambian referee. The Al Nassr forward was a burst of energy every time he got on the ball.
Isaac Success – He showed his physical presence but wasn’t mobile enough to trouble the defence of South Africa… 5/10
Henry Onyekuru – Didn’t get involved enough to earn a rating.
Semi Ajayi – Made one vital interception to deny South Africa a late chance from a counter with a smart tackle. However he didn’t last enough on the pitch to command a rating.
DID YOU KNOW?
1. Jesse Lingard has scored as many goals in his last two games for England (2) as he had managed in his first 20 caps for the Three Lions.
2. England has lost just two of their last 27 matches on home soil (W21 D4 L2), with both defeats arriving at Wembley (1-2 vs Spain in September and 1-2 vs Netherlands in March 2016).
3. Scotland recorded their biggest victory in an international game under Alex McLeish (4-0), in what was the Scot’s 19th game in charge (across two spells).
4. Ryan Fraser has been directly involved in 13 goals in 16 appearances for club and country combined in 2018-19 (five goals and eight assists).
5. Scotland have lost seven of their last nine international games (W2), including each of the last two.
6. 39 – Notts County have conceded 39 league goals this season; the most of any team in the top four tiers of English football.
7. 10 – Sunderland AFC’s Josh Maja is the first teenager to score 10 league goals in the top four tiers of English league football this season.
8. Only Man City (36) has scored more home goals than Luton Town (29) in all competitions among the 92 English football league sides this season.
9. Wales has lost back-to-back home games in all competitions for the first time since September 2012, when they lost three in succession.
10. Gareth Bale has been directly involved in seven goals in his five appearances for Wales in 2018 (5 goals, 2 assists).
11. Wales has conceded as many goals in their last four international games (7) as they had in their previous 12 combined.
12. Callum Wilson is the first ever Bournemouth player to score for England, and the first player to score on his Three Lions debut since Marcus Rashford in May 2016.
13. Wayne Rooney is making his 120th appearance for England. He’s second only to Peter Shilton (125) for most caps for the England men’s national team.
14. At 20y 39d, Trent Alexander-Arnold is the youngest Liverpool player to score for England since Michael Owen vs Luxembourg in September 1999 (19y 264d).