3rd June, 2022
The Super Eagles of Nigeria on Thursday succumbed to a 0-1 defeat by Ecuador in their second consecutive international friendly in New Jersey, U. S.
The Eagles had narrowly lost their first match to Mexico by 2-1 on Saturday.
However, on Thursday, the 25,000-capacity Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, was packed to the brim as the Ecuadorians started the game in rampant manner, advertising silky touches and manifesting so much energy and invention.
The boys of Gustavo Alfaro are going to their fourth FIFA World Cup finals and were in high spirit as they filed out against the hurriedly assembled Eagles.
The South Americans are drawn to play the opening match of this year’s FIFA World Cup finals against hosts Qatar on Nov. 21 and would also play Senegal and The Netherlands in Group A.
Super Eagles’ newly-appointed Head Coach Jose Peseiro made one change from Saturday’s loss against Mexico, starting Katsina United midfielder Sani Faisal in place of the injured Bonke Innocent.
Ecuador, however, opened the scoring after only three minutes as Villareal defender Pervis Estupiñán foxed the Nigeria rearguard and converted an in-swinging free-kick by Angel Mena to put Ecuador in front.
They were up and running and making life difficult for the Super Eagles on the natural turf, and in the 11th minute, Angel Delgado came close with a sliced shot that went narrowly over the sticks.
Nigeria thought they had a penalty two minutes later when Terem Moffi was fouled in the box as he tried to get on the end of a sweet exchange between Moses Simon and Alex Iwobi, but the referee thought otherwise.
In the 22nd minute, Uzoho did a good job to parry over an angled shot by Isaac Caicedo, and at the other end, Cyriel Dessers could not beat goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez when through on goal.
Nigeria were rampant in a melee a minute later, with so many touches in the box from a corner, but the ball simply refused to go in.
Moses Simon sent the ball sky-high from a 22-yard free kick in the 37th minute, and two minutes before recess, Dessers wasted another brilliant pass by Alex Iwobi.
In the second period, just as they did against Mexico in Dallas on Saturday, the Super Eagles dominated and created a hatful of chances, but this time failed to click when it mattered.
While keeping the dangerous quartet of Pervis, Caicedo, Sebastian Mendez, and Enner Valencia quiet, the Eagles created chance after chance, silencing the wholly Ecuadorian crowd.
Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, Iwobi, substitute Emmanuel Dennis, Calvin Bassey, and Simon were bright and bold, but Dessers wasted a couple of opportunities that would have tied the game.
Speaking after the game, Peseiro said: “I think we played much better than Mexico.
“Today I saw more pressure, we created more opportunities, we created some against Mexico, but today I saw more and some organization in how we played.
“Against Mexico, we trained two times; for some players, it was once. The reason for the improvement is we have now trained four times, so we had to improve.”
Next up for the Super Eagles is a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Sierra Leone, at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on June 9.