The Super Eagles of Nigeria held the Black Stars of Ghana to a goalless draw in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup playoffs at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Friday night.
As expected in a fully-packed Baba Yara Stadium, the Black Stars started like a house on fire in the encounter, but the Super Eagles were solid to resist their attacking threats as both teams went on to share the spoils after normal time.
Here is a scorecard on how Nigerian players fared on Friday
GK. Francis Uzoho (9)
Francis has to be one of Nigeria’s best players on parade on Friday. He slotted in for injured Maduka Okoye like he never left.
He made a couple of saves in the first and second half. Francis was seen shouting and communicating with his defenders and calling them to order.
RB. Ola Aina (6)
Olaoluwa Aina had a decent game, wasn’t as productive as he would normally be in the attacking area but was generally decent all night.
LB. Zaidu Sanusi (6)
Shaky at the start of the game but grew into the game. Also had a decent game.
CB. Leon Balogun (9)
Leon Balogun bossed it defensively. He made a number of ball recoveries, last-minute tackles, and snuff all the plans of the Ghanaians.
The only but to his performance today was his ball-playing duty. He was caught a few times while trying to play out from the back.
But in his primary role as a defender, he nailed it.
CB. William Troost-Ekong (6)
William Troost-Ekong was okay. Manhandled Felix Afena-Gyan but he was caught sleeping and ball watching a few times.
CM: Innocent Bonke (6.5)
Brought in to replace injured Wilfred Ndidi and did a good job protecting the back four and trying to link with the attack.
He was replaced after he appeared injured in the 62nd minute.
CM: Joe Aribo (6)
He looked like the only one on the pitch who could find the pocket of spaces. Had a chance to score a goal in the first half but missed.
Until he was replaced after he appeared injured in the 59th minute, he played good trying to run box-to-box.
It’s high time he is played in the advanced role instead of restricting him in the midfield.
SS: Kelechi Iheanacho (4.5)
Only Austin Eguavoen can explain why Kelechi Iheanacho played the entire duration of the game. He was lost and not in the game.
Dennis was caught on camera shouting at him to be involved at a point. He just didn’t connect. He was badly not in the game.
RW: Simon Moses (5.5)
Not one of his best games. Simon was overdoing his dribbles at a point. He had a chance to put Nigeria ahead in the second half but unfortunately, he fluffed his lines.
LW: Samuel Chukwueze (5)
Samuel Chukwueze needs to be used as an impact substitute going forward. It wasn’t a good day at the office for Samu.
ST: Victor Osimhen (7)
As expected Victor Osimhen ran his socks off. Maybe he could have scored a goal in the first half but he misjudged the flight of the ball.
CM: Oghenekaro Etebo (6)
Etebo and Onyeka could be the go-to anchor with Aribo playing behind the striker. Etebo came in for Innocent Bonke in the 62 minutes and did a great job.
He ran box to box to help Nigeria on the night.
CM: Frank Onyeka (6)
Frank Onyeka came in for Joe Aribo in the 59th minute of the game and added more to the team in the field. Could have created a goal for Osimhen late one after selling a dummy to two Ghanaians late in the game.
His final cross let him down.
RW: Dennis Emmanuel (4)
Came in for Samuel Chukwueze in the 59th minute but didn’t impact the game much.
LW: Ademola Lookman (4)
Came in for Simon Moses in the 74th minute of the game for his Nigerian debut but he didn’t do much to change the game.
LB: Calvin Bassey (5)
He did very well after coming for Zaidu Sanusi to play the remaining 16 minutes of the game. He was flying forward at will and did his defensive duties as well.