Monday, 18 April 2011


Liberia and Nigeria share points in under-23 All African Games qualifiers. 

Daniel Uchechi scored a penalty at one end, and Dele Ajiboye saved at the other as Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw by Liberia at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on April 16.

The match was the first leg preliminary for the 10th All African Games, which will take place in Maputo, Mozambique from September 3-18.  

Fired up by the reported ill-treatment from their hosts, Nigeria downplayed the pre-match event and were rewarded when Uchechi was hauled down in the danger area on the half hour mark by right back Teah Dennis.

The Leicester City man picked himself up to convert the resultant spot kick, sending goalie Nathaniel Sherman one way and the ball another way.

Little was seen after the goal and the visitors were happy going into the break 1-0.

Back from recess, substitute Sam Johnson drew level for Liberia when he leaped above the defensive partnership of Udoh Kingsley and Edet Iboku and the onrushing Ajiboye to send the relatively empty stadium into noise in the 67th minute.

Liberia had a chance to bury the game with 15 minutes to go when Edet mistimed a tackle in the box following a foul on Johnson.

The resultant penalty was saved by Ajiboye from the leg of James Soto Roberts and Patrick Wleh sent the rebound sky high before Ajiboye was taken off injured in stoppage time.

Sherman won the hearts of Liberians in goal with several breath-taking saves and James Gallay, who watch from the stands should ponder over his starting role when he returns from injury.   

Meanwhile, Nigeria faced trying times ahead of the games, having reportedly being abandoned for three hours at the Roberts International Airport and with a sustained lack of electricity at their hotel.

Barrister Chris Green, who headed the delegation, told that there has been power outage at their hotel since Thursday.
"There is no electricity at the hotel, and we're told they are repairing the generator. It is very hot, but the players are not bothered as they know they are here for business. Their minds are on the match taking place at the Samuel Doe Sports Complex on Saturday night," said Green.

Team media officer Arafat Aliu confirmed that the conditions are somewhat challenging but the team remains undeterred and did not show any worries at a light work-out on Friday morning.

Midfielder Rabiu Ibrahim, who won a Fifa under-17 World Cup gold in Korea Republic four years ago and also played at the Fifa under-20 World Cup in 2009, said: "We are not disturbed by all these antics. We will do the business on the pitch. In fact, we want to punish the Liberians for this behaviour."

Striker Danny Uchechi added: "We are here for business and that is where our minds are. We don't care for their attitude."

Officials of the Liberia FA reportedly failed to show-up at the team's hotel and weren’t even picking calls from members of the delegation.

Roberto Landi of Liberia and Austin Eguavoen of Nigeria likened the playing pitch to a ‘beach’.

“This field can’t even be compared to a west African standard. It marred the good football that should have been played here tonight,” said Eguavoen.

But Landi thinks the pitch had an impact on the result and is bracing for the return leg in two weeks.

“The pitch is no good. We played the way we play because we only train here for one night. We will be ready when we go Abuja; they are not better than us,” he said.

Eguavoen and his crew will return home feeling relieve that a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

Liberia: Nathaniel Sherman, Michael Jaesu, Alpha James, Teah Dennis, Myers Garlo, Kanu Martins, Alexander Dargba (James Soto Roberts-45’), Leon Power, Patrick Wleh, Kpai Sherman (Sam Johnson-45’), Emmett Wleh (Neme Yancy-87’).

Subs not used: Trokon Zeon, Nana Gibson, Gideon Williams & Samuel Cooper.
Nigeria: Dele Ajiboye O. Muniru (Thomas Olufemi-87’), Edet Emmanuel
Ibok, Udoh Kingsley, Inah Ofem Stephen, Saka Ayo, Eneji Otekpa, Orelesi Nurudeen, Ibrahim Rabiu (Maduabuchi Josiah-51’), Okoro Osadebamwen (Oduamadi Nnamdi-74’), Ekigho Ehiosun, Ucheehi Chima Daniel.

Subs not used: Ibeagha Christian, Mbah Chimezie, Gabriel Ruben, Amoda Usman.