World Cup Qualifier: Eagles disappoint fans, fail to claim maximum points against MalawiHeadlines, Soccer, Sports Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Malawi celebrate late goal against the Super Eagles
Nigeria’s stuttering start to their World Cup qualifying campaign continued on Saturday as they were held to a 1-1 draw away by Malawi in their African zone Group F tie in Blantyre.
The result follows a narrow, and late, triumph in their opening qualifier over lowly Namibia at home last weekend.
Midfielder Reuben Gabriel scored in second half stoppage time to seemingly again hand Nigeria a late victory for a second successive week, only for Malawi substitute John Banda to equalise a minute later.
The Flames opened their group campaign with a goalless draw in Kenya on Saturday, while the Super Eagles had to wait until the 80th minute before finding a way past a stubborn Namibia side.
Nigeria are unbeaten in World Cup qualifying since losing in Angola in 2004, but they struggled to impose themselves against the Flames.
Nigeria, who have been to four of the last five World Cup finals, were expected to dominate the group.
But they laboured again to add to the largely ineffective performance in Calabar last Sunday, when they needed an 80th minute goal from Spanish-based striker Ike Uche to take all three points.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the last African Nations Cup and have largely overhauled their team under new coach Stephen Keshi.
Elsewhere, Namibia host Kenya as both sides look for their first group win in Windhoek on Saturday.
Namibia coach Bernard Kaanjuka, whose side displayed valiant defence in their opening defeat in Calabar, has called on the nation to rally behind his side in their bid for an unlikely World Cup qualification.
“This group is not going to be easy and so we need to be motivated by our people – pack the stadium please,” the coach told the Namibian FA website.
The same website reported that a trio of key players – Henrico Botes, Lazarus Kaimbi and Rudolf Bester – have returned to the squad, with Jerome Louis missing through injury.
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