It’s all quiet and silent in Nigeria. These are dull and dour times for Nigerians.
Players are desolate. Coaches are flummoxed. Fans are disappointed and their reactions are destructive. It’s easily the most disastrous night in Nigerian football in a while.
While losing a World Cup ticket is devastating, losing it to Ghana in that manner punctured a hole through hearts.
On a night Super Eagles stars played at a walking pace, applied the urgency of a sick baby and eventually lost a moment with history, the Black Stars shone.
Heroes became villains. The fledgling monster became lukewarm in the face of heat. Big names went to sleep. The smaller ones hardly featured or showed.
Nigeria’s benchwork wasn’t constructive and it nailed the coffin. There’s no hiding place again, but before we face the crux, let’s grade players on the night.
What a night! One he’d hate to ever remember and easily one he’d love to forget. In part 2 of the famous Nigerian goalkeeper bloopers series, Uzoho was dealt hard by what would on normal days be a routine save. It built a mountain for the team to climb. And they never garnered enough energy for the ascent.
Uzoho appeared overwhelmed on the day. His clearances were high but short, his passing was bumpy and questionable. In one moment, he almost failed to deal with a simple pass and made a complete mess of the ball.
It was a complete reversal of the confident showing he had in Kumasi four days ago. Ninety-six hours are so long in the life of a performer. – 3/10
Not his best day by any mile. He was nothing near the excellence he showed in Kumasi. His urgency on the ball held questions. Choice of passing also looked suspect. Although he made some intelligent runs, a rather overconfident disposition sometimes caught him high and out. He has had better days in that jersey. This wasn’t any of them. – 5/10
One of the few players who played for something today. He was clearly turned on for the game and had a good performance, keeping the Ghanaian attackers at bay. His ball reading was good and his long balls into the Ghanaian area gave the Black Stars’ defense a lot to deal with.
He converted the equalising penalty cooly and showed great responsibility and leadership at that moment. Would have hoped times were better. But it’s what it is. – 7/10
The Rangers defender had some nervy moments but had a solid performance. He’d wish it resulted in a positive result but football struck. His urgency after Ghana’s opener helped the team keep the tempo. Not a bad game from him, but it ended on a sordid note. – 6.5/10
On his first start for the Super Eagles, Bassey had to face more than 60,000 fans and he hardly got the better of it. He had a shaky performance all through, failed to make easy passes and looked suspect with easy decisions.
He’d want a better full debut. Not a nice way to start one’s international football career. – 4/10
Nothing near his best day. He got tired as the game wore on and struggled to stamp a feet all night. His fitness level was obviously too low for a game of the intensity and he was exposed when his midfield partner, Frank Onyeka was forced off at halftime as result of injury.
The duo of Thomas Partey and Muhammed Kudus proved too much for his readiness.
He was a bison at the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup but four years since then, Etebo is not at the level again. 4/10
Had a decent first-half performance before an ankle injury meant he won’t continue. His absence exposed the Nigerian midfield as he did a lot of attacking movements and covered decently.
His exit exposed Etebo and Aribo in the middle and forced Nigeria to seek alternatives. A player that’s underutilised with the Super Eagles. Sadly, there’ll be no World Cup to stake a better claim. 6/10
Playing further afield today, Aribo looked lost on many occasions. He was too shallow and too deep, floated in the middle but hardly competed. His urgency wasn’t anything near good. Had a passive and subdued game by his standard and never came to the party all game.
He lost second balls and didn’t show the fight he’s known for or the like of what he showed in Kumasi. Looked overwhelmed by the occasion. 4/10
He will want better days with the Super Eagles. His urgency was questionable while he lasted. Looked to enjoy the fans’ reactions to his dribbles and was distracted.
Sometimes played to the gallery and was on a walking pace while he was on the pitch. Not a performance many expected from the Watford attacker. 4/10
Good first start for the Super Eagles. Unfortunate to have ended on a sad note for the Leicester winger. He won the penalty Troost-Ekong converted to give Nigeria an equaliser and was a threat for long periods in the game till he fizzled out. Better days will come. 6/10
Devastated after the game. Fed from scraps all evening. He twice tried to make something incredible out of little to nothing and was a constant threat to the Ghanaian defense.
Scored a goal that was ruled for offside after working hard to beat Ghanaian defenders.
His battles with Alexander Djiku and Daniel Amartey was one of the highlights of the game. Ghana came prepared for Osimhen and he didn’t leave without a fight.
Failure to qualify for the World Cup however blots his rising CV. – 6/10
Moses Simon – For two legs, Simon played with brakes on. Against Ghana in Abuja, he hardly made any impact of note after replacing Lookman.
His dead balls were not great, his crosses were high and long and often met nobody.
Arguably the most disappointing of all, especially on the strength of his impressive AFCON performance. – 3/10
Had little or nothing to show, and didn’t make a beauty of a few opportunities to cross. Hardly made any impact. – N/A
Odion Ighalo – N/A
Umar Sadiq – NA