South Africa 1-1 Nigeria: What did we learn?

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Goal highlights the lessons from Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Johannesburg as the Super Eagles secured qualification for Cameroon 2019

  1. Shengolpix

    #1 Samuel Kalu comes good

    After a below-par outing in the double-header against Libya last month, doubts began to creep in as to how effective Samuel Kalu could be for the national team. However, he demonstrated his worth against South Africa, despite playing in an unfamiliar right wing-back role, putting in the cross that led to Nigeria’s opener, albeit via a deflection. The Bordeaux player was a real threat when going forward, a sign that there is still plenty more good to come from him.

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    #2 Altitude and weather were not favourable

    For a game played with the weather reading more than 30 degrees and in a city that is more than 1,500 metres above sea level, playing conditions were not great, especially for the Nigerians. It was a surprise that there was no water break during the match, as there were evident signs that the players got tired as the contest wore on. Perhaps, if the weather was cooler and altitude much lower, it could have been a much better spectacle on Saturday.

  3. Backpagepix

    #3 Percy Tau is the new nightmare

    Tokelo Rantie is a name Nigerians won’t want to remember after he scored twice in a 2015 Afcon qualifier that ended the Super Eagles' hopes of making it to the tournament. He was also on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture in Uyo, and while not in the starting XI this time, it was Percy Tau that did the big damage. Indeed, the Brighton and Hove Albion loanee’s neat footwork and forward runs caused havoc in the Nigerian backline, and he was influential for the equaliser, unselfishly giving the ball to Lebo Mothiba rather than going for goal himself. The West Africans would definitely not want to see Tau next time around after Saturday’s brilliant display.

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    #4 Kelechi Iheanacho needs a timeout

    With Odion Ighalo injured for this one, Iheanacho was thrust into leading the frontline, but the Leicester City player showed incompetence once again, with a loss of footing when he should have been better prepared, preventing him from scoring a goal that would have seen Nigeria retake the lead. Iheanacho continues to offer virtually nothing for the national team in recent times, and it might be best if he is dropped for a while and other options assessed.

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    #5 Officiating was not top class

    Considered one of the top referees on the continent, Bakary Gassama failed to live up to that billing in Joburg, as two goals in either half from Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa were chalked off for offside. Replays showed that both goals were scored from an onside positon, and seeing that this denied the Super Eagles the chance to bag a big win in South Africa’s biggest city, Nigerian fans won’t certainly have a good assessment of the Gambian referee going forward.