The much anticipated first leg of the ‘Jollof derby’ ended with no victor, no vanquished, setting the stage for a winner-take-all clash in Abuja on Tuesday
Former Nigeria international Austin Okocha says the goalless draw played out by the Black Stars and the Super Eagles at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Friday evening was a fair result for both teams.
With an assortment of exciting attackers in their fold, the Super Eagles were a safe bet to net a crucial away goal and possibly even win on Ghanaian soil in a competitive match for the first time.
The coach Augustine Eguavoen-led side managed to carve out the best chances of the match but Ghana, led by Arsenal’s Thomas Partey and edged on by thousands of home fans, dominated proceedings for much of the evening.
And Okocha, a veteran of three World Cups, has applauded the Super Eagles for maintaining their composure on a hostile away ground.
“We couldn’t separate both teams because nobody wanted to lose,” Okocha said at the end of the game.
“No one wanted to go into the second leg of this tie chasing, so I think the result was a fair one; I think we (Nigeria) did a good job in front of the home crowd.
“We were totally dominated in terms of the support. I think we have given ourselves a good chance going into the second leg.”
The return leg kicks off in Abuja on Tuesday, March 29, with the Super Eagles guaranteed a World Cup ticket with any manner of victory.
And in front of a supportive Nigerian fan base, Okocha, arguably Nigeria’s greatest ever midfielder, believes a win over the Black Stars is non-negotiable for the Eagles.
“I think if we can’t win the second leg in Abuja, then we don’t have a reason to be at the World Cup,” he added.
“I don’t think there’s a better advantage than to win and qualify for the World Cup in front of the home fans.”
The Super Eagles have qualified for each of the last three editions of the World Cup. They could become only the second African team, after Cameroon, to make four consecutive appearances at the Mundial with a victory over Ghana in the second leg.