Emem Eduok’s first half goal earned the Home-based Super Eagles of Nigeria a slim 1-0 victory against Ghan’s U-23 side, the Black Meteors at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium in Uyo on Friday.
The friendly match, tagged the Transformation Cup, was put together as a tune up match to officially open the new stadium in Uyo.
The Nigerian team, comprised of only players from Nigerian Leagues, started off well and in the 12 minute, Eduok broke free off Ghana’s left-back Abdul Ganiyu Ishmeal and his low cross into the box was smothered by Richard Ofori in goal for Ghana.
Rabiu Ali was next to try to shoot, but he could not keep his attempt on target. At this point, the Super Eagles were dominating and moving the ball very fast into the final third, leaving the Ghanaians to defend deep.
In the 15th minute, Eduok switched to the left channel and immediately ghosted past the Ghana defence. But Osaguona failed to connect his low cross into the area.
Five minutes later, Solomon Kwambe also got into the picture when he ventured up front from his right-back position but had his shot blocked by the Ghana under-23s shot-stopper.
Eduok continued to cause Ishmeal trouble and in the 28th minute shrugged off the challenge of Ishmeal, however, the Dolphins man could not apply the finish after the good job to find his way into Ghana’s box.
But seven minutes later, Eduok found the target to give Nigeria the lead. The Dolphins winger planted in a header off Kwambe’s tailored cross past Ofori, who was rooted to the spot.
Five minutes before the break, Ghana nearly got back into the game when captain and goalkeeper of the Super Eagles, Chigozie Agbim, flapped a Benjamin Agyare’s cross. Samuel Afful failed to capitalise on that error.
Udoh was sent on for Osaguona at the start of the second 45 minutes with Ghana starting on the front foot.
Eleven minutes after the restart Eduok benefitted from Lawrence Lartey’s poor defending to shoot from close range. His effort just missed the target by inches.
Eduok proved to be a handful for the Ghanaian back four in the second half but he could not add a second goal to his account.
Enyimba striker Udoh had a sight at goal when played through but instead he opted to square into the box when he could have let fly.
In the final 12 minutes of the match, Eduok came close twice to scoring and Udoh clipped the cross bar.
With a minute left on the clock, Hearts of Oak midfielder Richard Yamoah was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Tony Edjomariegwe.
During added time, Kingsley Sokari saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by New Edubiase defender Emmanuel Nti Mensah, which represented the last real action of the game.
Nigeria assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi, took charge of the African champions in the absence of head coach Stephen Keshi, who only arrived in Uyo on the day of the match but was in the stands to watch his team.
It was the first time that Amokachi was in charge of a Nigerian team since guiding a set of players from the country’s top flight to win the Wafu Cup in 2010.
Amokachi opted to start up front with Osaguona Ighodaro and Gbolahan Salami with Emem Eduok playing out wide on the right. Leading scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) with 21 goals, Mfon Udoh, started from the bench.