Nigeria and South Africa Draw 1-1 in Crucial World Cup Qualifier

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Nigeria and South Africa settled for a 1-1 draw in their crucial World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Friday night.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru scored his second goal for Nigeria to cancel out a fine Themba Zwane opener as the Super Eagles failed to soar past the visitors. Coach Finidi George handed Manchester City academy product Fisayo Dele-Bashiru a place in the starting lineup, while Chippa United goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali made his home debut for the Super Eagles after earning eleven caps away.

With the team initially set up in an exciting-looking 4-3-3 formation, the Super Eagles played on the front foot in the opening stages. However, South Africa’s short passing moves allowed the Bafana Bafana to quickly settle, and they had the first chance of the game when a Teboho Mokoena free-kick grazed Nwabali’s crossbar.

South Africa took the lead just before the half-hour mark when Themba Zwane danced past a sleepy Nigeria defense to fire beyond Nwabali. The visitors almost doubled their lead shortly after, but Benjamin Tanimu headed the ball away with Nwabali beaten.

Late in the half, Nigeria finally had a chance at goal, but Onuachu, preferred in attack to Victor Boniface, placed his header from an Ademola Lookman cross close to goalkeeper Ronwen Williams. The Bafana Bafana headed into the dressing room at halftime the happier of the two teams, while the Super Eagles were relieved to be only one goal behind.

Nigeria came out strong in the second half and swiftly saw their efforts rewarded. Onuachu combined smartly with Iwobi, who then fed Dele-Bashiru. The young midfielder turned brilliantly to smash a low drive into the net.

Nigeria had a strong shout for a penalty shortly after when Dele-Bashiru was hacked down in the box, but the referee shockingly waved play on. Dele-Bashiru did not recover from the knock and was replaced on the hour mark by Alhassan Yusuf.

The Super Eagles showed more fight in the second half, creating several chances. Bright Osayi-Samuel had a sight of goal after Onuachu played him in, but the Fenerbahce fullback fired straight at goalkeeper Williams. Iwobi then fired high and wide when well-placed, before substitute Samuel Chukwueze smashed one into the crossbar after a smart one-two with Yusuf.

Nigeria had two late chances through Lookman to claim a win, but the Atalanta man could not replicate the efficiency he showed in the Europa League final. In the end, Finidi George’s Eagles settled for a draw with the Bafana Bafana, missing the chance to go top of Group C.

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