*South African Football Association lends Nigeria match ball
*What a monumental national disgrace
*Upset results in AFCON qualifiers
By Olajide Fashikun
This certainly must be one of the saddest times to be identified as a Nigerian. Guests in the South African Football Association (SAFA) had to lend Nigeria the match ball in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in Uyo-Nigeria!
This is a monumental disgrace. A diplomatic gaffe. The hosts who had received the match balls about three months ago, the same time when the balls were sent in by FIFA to all member nations, but Nigeria was so broke they could not pay the import duties to clear the ball.
www.gongnews.net had raised this issue Friday in one of our reports. It was not denied. On match day, our report was re-established with their hosts coming to the rescue for the so-called giant of Africa.
The Uyo match: Bafana Bafana of South Africa recorded their first-ever competitive victory over Nigeria when they defeated the Super Eagles 0-2 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier Saturday in Uyo.
Both nations have met a dozen times before. Bafana Bafana had only won a friendly 13 years ago. This match incidentally is also the first loss by Eagles’ German coach, Gernot Rohr, since he took over the team in July 2016.
The Group: Libya, a dominantly Muslim nation whose players were fasting now lead Group E after they trounced Seychelles 5-1 on Saturday in Cairo, Egypt.
In March 2018, Nigeria will be away to Seychelles, while Libya will be guests of South Africa.
Tekelo Rantie headed Bafana Bafana in front after 54 minutes when he powered home a cross from the right past the Nigerian goalkeeper Akpeyi who was watching how the ball flipped past him while his defence went to sleep. They were guilty of ball watching. They were accordingly punished.
South Africa, who continued to enjoy more of the ball possession after their goal, doubled their lead in the 80th minute through Percy Tau, who rounded up Akpeyi off a through ball by Dolly to score.
Earlier in the second half, Themba Zwane crashed the Nigerian post a second time in the 79th minute with the Nigeria defence all at sea.
And moments later a penalty appeal by Bafana Bafana was overlooked by the Tunisian referee after Keegan Dolly appeared to have been fouled by Chidozie Awaziem inside the Super Eagles box.
Bafana Bafana cleared off the goal line on 79 minutes when Etebo fired at goal as Nigeria continued to chase the game.
The Super Eagles enjoyed more of the ball in the first 45 minutes, but they could have gone behind against the run of play three minutes from the interval when goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi spilled a cross from the left, but Zwane’s shot from inside the box somehow came off the post.
Basket of Nigerian misses: Leicester City ace Wilfred Ndidi took the first shot at the South African goal on 11 minutes, but it was wide of the target.
Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune then had to rush out of his goal area in the 20th minute to stop Kelechi Iheanacho from pulling the trigger when free on goal.
Two minutes later, Etebo missed Nigeria’s best opening of the half, when he arrived late to stab at goal a square ball inside the box by Iheanacho, but it narrowly missed the mark.
The Nigerian team that lost to South Africa: Daniel Akpeyi, Elderson Echiejile, Shehu Abdullahi, Chidozie Awaziem, William Troost-Ekong, Wilfred Ndidi, Ogenyi Onazi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Moses Simon, Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Olanrewaju Kayode.
Other upset results that had tumbled in from qualifying matches include the following:
- Cote d’ivoire 2-3 Guinea
- Botswana 0-1 Mauritania
- Zambia 0-1 Mozambique