Nigeria 0 Uganda 0: Super Eagles held by resilient Cranes as 2019 Afcon preparation commences
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The Super Eagles played out a goalless stalemate against their content visitors to kick-start their Afcon preparations

Nigeria were held to a 0-0 draw by Uganda in Tuesday’s friendly clash at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

The Super Eagles were better placed to secure a win in their maiden game after booking a spot to next year’s African Cup of Nations finals but Sebastien Desabre’s selfish defence held firm to continue their impressive run.

Sporting Charleroi striker Victor Osimhen, on his full debut, had the clearest chances for the hosts while debutant and former U17 teammate Samuel Chukwueze impressed.

Expectedly, Gernot Rohr rang the changes with only five players from Saturday’s game against South Africa retaining their spot in a refreshing 4-3-3 set-up.

In-form Villarreal winger Chukwueze was handed his debut on the right side of the attack with Osimhen leading the line, and captain Ahmed Musa adding his experience to an exciting forward.

John Ogu - who had Mikel Agu take his place at the base of the midfield - dropped to a four-man defence, partnering Semi Ajayi in centre-back with Brian Idowu to his right while Daniel Akpeyi got the nod to start between the sticks.

For the Cranes, missing the star duo of goalkeeper Dennis Onyango and Farouk Miya, Salim Jamal started in goal and Moses Waiswa in the attacking midfield role.

The Super Eagles took the initiative in the opening exchanges with Chukwueze showing flashes of brilliance but it was the visitors that carved out the first real chance of the game.

Derrick Nsibambi got in between Ogu and Ajayi, showed some brilliance to win a long punt but saw his improvised acrobatic effort sail across Akpeyi’s post.

Etebo and Osimhen threatened the Cranes’ posts in quick succession with sublime efforts. The Stoke City midfielder drilled a speculative freekick from long range that was pushed out for the corner kick and the striker headed the resulting set piece - a teasing inswinger from Chukwueze - past the target.

Osimhen, again, almost got his first senior goal after being picked out by a brilliant Jamilu Collins centre but for the combination of a Ugandan defender and goalkeeper Jamal.

The first half ended with both sides involved in a few goalmouth action and Rohr made three changes before the second 45 minutes started, with only Musa retaining his spot in the forward line as Isaac Success and Samuel Kalu came on.

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Kalu duly took over the tormentor-in-chief role from his replacement Chukwueze, causing the Uganda defence all sort of problems and even came close to opening the scoring with a long-range free-kick in the 70th minute.

With eight minutes left, the Bordeaux star sought to create the winner off another well-taken indirect free-kick, but the Cranes were quick to clear their lines.

The impressive Agu would have been the hero of the evening but he directed his header from another Kalu delivery slightly above target as both sides settled for a share of the spoils.

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