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Rohr looks at positives as Brazil force Nigeria to 1-1 draw

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Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr was full of praise for his wards after yesterday’s gutsy display against Brazil in an international friendly match in Singapore.

The South American champions forced Nigeria to a 1-1 draw at the Singapore National Stadium in Kallang, but the impressive display by the Super Eagles, who finished third at the African Nations Cup in February, left many of their fans thinking that the good days are back. But Rohr urges caution, saying, however, that the team is beginning to show the quality he has always known that they possess.

The German, who reiterated his earlier stance that matches like yesterday’s against Brazil would test his team’s progress, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the game.

There were moments of anxiety for the Nigerian coach, especially when his first-choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho was stretchered out injured in the second. But at the end of the day, he was pleased with the state of his team ahead of the African Nations Cup qualifiers.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for us to learn a few more things that will make us better and stronger for future challenges.

“This is an important test game for us, and we are here to learn from the best. We hope for a very good game against Brazil.

“This will help us prepare ourselves for the 2021 Afcon qualifiers against the Benin Republic and Lesotho next month,” he had said before them.

Yesterday, Villarreal of Spain’s Chukwueze, a former Nigeria U17 World Cup winner, was a thorn in the flesh of the Selecao throughout, and created chances for Nigeria in the 20th and 24th minute but Osimhen was cut out by an alert Brazilian rear.

In the 28th minute, Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho showed excellent agility in cutting out a powerful header by the ubiquitous Gabriel Jesus. Two minutes later, Uzoho was again alert to foil a shot by Firmino and then reacted faster than Philip Coutinho as the ball danced in the box.

In the 35th minute, Nigeria broke through again, this time mining gold. Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, who scored on his debut in the friendly against Ukraine in Dnipro last month, kept his cool and showed cleverness in taking a pass from Moses Simon and ghosting past Casemiro and Thiago Silva to shoot past Ederson for the opener.

The Brazilians regrouped in the second half and launched onslaught after onslaught, with their equalizer coming in the 48th minute through Casemiro, who reacted faster than the defense when the ball bounced off the crossbar from a Marquinhos header.

In the 53rd minute, Osimhen leaped between two defenders but his header was not strong enough to rattle Ederson. Three minutes later, Uzoho pulled another big save from a Gabriel Jesus header. On the hour, the Cyprus–based Uzoho, who was Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper at last year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, had to leave the session after twisting his leg as he went for the ball from a Brazilian corner.

His replacement, Maduka Okoye, was not much troubled though he showed calmness. In the closing stages, Semi Ajayi was excellent with some game-saving interventions at the Nigerian rear.

The result was a huge confidence booster for the Super Eagles, who begin their race to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with qualifying matches against the Benin Republic and Lesotho next month. It was also a huge improvement from Nigeria’s 0-3 defeat to the Selecao in a friendly match in Abuja on June 2003.

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