by Ifreke Inyang
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will not be at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian National team failed to qualify for the Championship that will be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon after they could only draw 2-2 against Guinean Syli Stars.
The game which was played at the Abuja National Stadium, saw the Eagles fly out of the blocks. They put the Guinean team on the backfoot, creating chances after chances but they failed to find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes of the game. Although the Guineans tried to slow down the pace of the game with time wasting antics, the Eagles carved them open several times. The best two chances of the first half fell to West Brom striker, Osaze Odenwiegie and Emmanuel Emenike. Osaze scuffed his shot after an excellent work from Taiye Taiwo on the left while Emenike could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper after out-muscling a Guinean defender.
The second half started on the same note, only for Ismael Bangoura to give Guinea the lead after a mix up in the Nigerian defence. Samson Siasia responded swiftly, throwing in Ikechukwu Uche for Osaze Odenwiegie . The move paid off as Ikechukwu’s deft back heel fell to Nsofor, who glided through the Guinean defence and fired in the equalizer. Ikechukwu himself added the second goal as he connected sweetly with a knock down by fellow striker, Emenike. At that point in time, everyone expected Nigeria to push on and score the all important third goal.
It wasn’t to be. Ibrahima Traore’s goal deep into stoppage time ensured Guinea’s progress and meant Nigeria failed to qualify for the first time since 1986. They will be absent from the competition for the first time since 1996 which they didn’t participate in due to political reasons. The Super Eagles went into the match needing to win 1-0, or by two clear goals if Guinea scored. Nigeria’s plight was not helped when Ethiopia beat Madagascar 4-2 in Addis Adaba.