VAR comes to Ghana’s aid as Super Eagles survive first leg clash unscathed, Eguavoen, Ekong react

Ghana and Nigeria played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their World Cup playoff in Kumasi, leaving the tie wide open when they meet again in Abuja on Tuesday to decide a place in Qatar.

There was little in the way of clear-cut chances across the 90 minutes in Kumasi, with Moses Simon having the best chance as he was denied in the second-half.

It was Ghana who started the match the better of the two sides, roared on by a raucous home crowd, though it wasn’t until 30 minutes in that their first real chance of the match came. Abdul Fatawu let fly with a powerful strike from the edge of the box, which Francis Uzoho parried away.

Nigeria grew into the game and enjoyed a bright spell just before the break. Kelechi Iheanacho very nearly got on the end of a cross at the back post, before Victor Osimhen sent a tame volley at goal that was comfortably saved.

Home side Ghana had more of the possession but only twice did they test goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who made a stop from a stinging shot by Issahaku Fatawu and then again late on from Mohammed Kudus.

Nigeria’s best chance came through Moses Simon ten minutes into the second half, but he fired straight at the goalkeeper from ten-yards out.

The Super Eagles were awarded a penalty with 15 minutes left when Idrissu Baba Mohamed handled the ball after being tripped in his own penalty area, but after a VAR check the referee overturned his decision after deciding that the Ghana man had been fouled.

Ghana were playing their first game under new coach Otto Addo, as changes were made following a dismal Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

Leicester’s Ademola Lookman, who had previously played for England at under-21 level, made his Nigeria debut as a substitute for the last 15 minutes.

The result means it’s all to play for heading into the second leg in Nigeria on Tuesday night when a place in Qatar at the end of the year will be won.

After the match, Austin Eguavoen said: “Ghana are a very tough team.

“The biggest positive we take from this is that we did not lose. We got a good result and our team was very organized and disciplined. But it was a good game and we are happy with the result.

“We trust in our players and we know that anybody we call upon at any time has the ability to do the job.

“This is not over,” he said. “It is just the first half of this game, and there is still the second leg to play. I was not happy with the way we were letting them win some balls and get into spaces, but we will sort that out in the second leg.

The Super Eagles defender William Troost-Ekong added: “We don’t expect an easy game in Abuja, but we are confident that we can win and qualify.”

“We had to stay strong, and keep our focus on ourselves and what we came here to do.”