October, 14 2023.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria were on Friday evening forced to a 2-2 draw by the Falcons of Saudi Arabia, in the first of their two international friendly matches, fixed for this window.
The Coach Roberto Mancini led Saudis were the first to score, when they found the back of the net in the 60th minute from a long range free-kick, which literarily slipped down the gloves of the Nigeria goalkeeper, Francis Ozoho.
Nigeria's response was through Victor Boniface, who showed some class when pressuring the Saudi Arabia defence and he netted the equalizer with an assist from FC Nantes of France winger, Moses Simon, in the 72nd minute but that goal was later given as an Own Goal.
Kelechi Iheanacho then put Nigeria 2-1 up, with a delightful goal on the 80th minute, but deed into stoppage time and virtually with the last kick of the ball, the Saudis hit back by converting a free-kick from the edge of the box to grab a well deserved 2-2 draw.
The international friendly played at the Portimao Municipal Stadium in Portugal, also saw the return of Real Sociedad of Spain striker, Sadiq Umar, who had been on the sidelines for both club and country, after undergoing surgery for a serious knee injury.
The match started on a very high tempo, with both teams in superb form and spirit. Bayer Leverkusen's Boniface had the first direct shot on target at the 19th minute of play while the beautiful chance gained by Victor Osimhen was thwarted right at the penalty box by the Saudi Arabia defenders in the 22nd minute.
While the battle for the first goal from both sides intensified, Nigeria's Samuel Chukwueze had a couple of chances which could have marked a major difference for the match before end of first half, if well utilized
The last direct opportunity the Nigeria Super Eagles had to net a goal at the 45th minute was a one on one chance with Haruna Lookman and the Arabia goalkeeper in the penalty arena, but it was disappointedly fluffed away to the amazement of majority of the fans.
The 55th minute into second half saw the exit of Victor Osimhen, as the SSC Napoli goal adore got replaced with Terem Murphy.
The Coach Jose Peseiro's led team will next face the Mambas of Mozambique, on Monday in the same country; www.ckdmedia.ng reports.