Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles and their Malian counterparts battled to a goalless draw in their opening Group A match of the 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium yesterday.
Both sides had good chances to score, but they failed to find the back of the net. The first shot on goal came in the eighth minute when a goalmouth scramble inside the Nigerian box fell to Mohamed Traore, but the Eagles attacker volleyed over the target from 16-yards out. Ten minutes later, it was Uche Akas’ turn to miss when his shot from a free-kick was held by the Malian keeper. Stephen Eze came close to breaking the deadlock when Diarra saved his header in the 33rd minute.
The second half started very slowly with the first attempt on goal only coming on the hour mark when Boubacar Samassekou met a free-kick from the left, but his ten-yard header sailed over the Nigerian goal.
In the 69th minute Moussa Kone was afforded a great chance to score when he drove into the box, but with just Ikechukwu Ezenwa to beat he fluffed his shot and the Super Eagles keeper made a comfortable save.
A minute later Olamileka Aniyikaye came to the rescue for Nigeria when he cleared a 12-yard shot from Mandala Konte off the goalline with his head.
Nigeria threw players forward in the final 10 minutes of the game and nearly stole the win in the 85th minute when Friday John met a free-kick from the left, but his 14-yard header skimmed the wrong side of the crossbar.
Nigeria’s next Group A match will take place on Saturday, September 16 against Guinea while Mali will face Ghana on the same day.