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Nigeria and Zimbabwe dragged to a scoreless stalemate in their pre-2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) sendforth international friendly at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Saturday.
Opportunities were few and far between in a rain-swept encounter that marked the return of captain Mikel John Obi to the camp of the three –time African champions after a year out, and despite the conditions, he showed his fitness and usual firmness in the middle and fully deserved the Man-of-the-Match award that came at the end.
As early as the 5th minute, Mikel orchestrated what could have been Nigeria’s opener, as he quickly switched play and found Alex Iwobi, who found Paul Onuachu, but the Denmark –based forward, whose goal condemned seven –time African champions Egypt to defeat at the same venue in March, could only find the side of the net.
It was a game that switched from one end to the other, and in the 22nd minute, with only goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi to beat, Warriors’ captain Knowledge Musona steered his shot over the woodworks.
In-between Mikel Obi entertaining the crowd with some deft touches, Samuel Kalu flashed a number of shots way from goal, and Khama Billiat and Nyasha Mushekwi fluffed opportunities at the other end.
In the second half, the introduction of Ahmed Musa enabled more urgency to the Nigerian game. He sneaked behind the Warriors’ rearguard a number of times but Paul Onuachu, Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze failed to connect.
Chukwueze flashed a shot across the Zimbabwean goal and Musa’s teasing cross missed everyone in the box. As the game wore on, defender Jamilu Collins failed to steer the ball past George Chigova in goal for Zimbabwe when put through by Mikel.
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