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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Nigeria 1-1 Ghana: Partey sparks fresh Super Eagles disaster in World Cup play-off

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G

hana secured their place at the 2022 World Cup, at the expense of Nigeria, after an away goals victory in Abuja on Tuesday night.

Thomas Partey’s strike was enough to upset the home fans in Abuja, after a goalless draw in the first leg last week, to end the Black Stars’ brief stint away from World Cups.

After only 11 minutes, goalkeeping errors came back to haunt Nigeria.

Maduka Okoye allowed Youssef Msakni’s shot to beat him too easily as the Super Eagles were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations by Tunisia in January, and this time it was Francis Uzoho in between the sticks for a true howler.

Thomas Partey lined up a shot from outside the box and, although the Arsenal man’s effort was fairly powerless and right at the keeper, Uzoho made an awful mess of his save and suddenly Ghana had the vital away goal.

Unperturbed, Nigeria almost replied instantly when Victor Osimhen shot wide from a narrow angle.

While it was the Tunisians who wrecked the Super Eagles’ AFCON hopes, Sadok Selmi, the Tunisian referee on this occasion, reignited their World Cup dreams after Denis Odoi fouled Ademola Lookman in the area.

A tight call, Selmi reversed his decision via VAR and William Troost-Ekong buried his penalty.

Osimhen thought he had completed the turnaround before the break until VAR once again intervened, correctly calling the Napoli striker’s goal back for offside after he had rounded the goalkeeper.

There was a sense that Osimhen was the Nigerian hero in waiting, as shown by his expertly-improvised flick towards goal as a cross bounced up awkwardly, which nonetheless flashed only a touch wide.

But, just as in Cameroon two months ago, Augustine Eguavoen’s side began to run out of steam. Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa provided the experience and goalscoring prowess off the bench yet proved toothless. Osimhen remained the primary threat, firing an acrobatic half-volley off-target.

Ghana, in response, were more street smart and defended well – particularly after Otto Addo’s decision to turn to five at the back in the second-half. They head to their fourth World Cup in five attempts later this year, while Nigeria sit out their first since 2006.

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