The race for tickets to the 2026 FIFA World Cup has begun in Africa with some intriguing results so far.
At the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, the Super Eagles of Nigeria played out a disheartening 1-1 draw against the Crocodiles of Lesotho meaning the team coached by Jose Peseiro cannot claim all expected 30 points from 10 matches in the qualification campaign.
Below, Prime Business Africa’s Izuchukwu Okosi presents the player ratings from the game.
Goalkeeper: Francis Uzoho
The much maligned goalkeeper put up a few£ saves in the game especially in the first half. Couldn’t do anything to prevent the goal. 6/10.
Right back: Bright Osayi-Samuel
The Fernabahce right back was his usual hard working self. He did his best to curtail the attacks from his position and also was influential while joining attack. 7/10.
Left back: Jamilu Collins
The Cardiff City left back was back on the starting line up after a few years and was fairly impressive at the back.
Also, he was a good foil going forward and had the team’s first real chance when his rasping shot was parried away for a corner kick. 7/10.
Central Defender: Semi Ajayi
The West Brom man equalized for Nigeria to save what could have been a worse situation against Lesotho.
Good with his progressive carries from the back and covered lots of ground. 8/10.
Central Defender: Calvin Bassey
The central defensive partner to Ajayi was also in good form for the Eagles and had some long balls out of the back line in the game.
Developing a good partnership with Ajayi, with both guys seemingly the preferred back line ahead of the AFCON in the Ivory Coast. 6.5/10.
Defensive Midifeld: Frank Onyeka
The Brentford man did not take his chance to stake a claim in the Eagles first team in the absence of the injured Wilfred Ndidi.
Onyeka was not as influential in the middle of the park as Ndidi would have been on his (Ndidi) good day. Onyeka overran by some of the Lesotho players in possession of the ball. 5/10.
Attacking Midfielder: Alex Iwobi
The Fulham midfielder was at the heart of the goal scoring opportunities that the Super Eagles had.
It was a mixed one for the the Nigeria international as he created a log of goal scoring chances with his passes though also had some of these passes intercepted. 7/10.
Left Sided Winger: Ademola Lookman
The Atalanta winger is usually deployed on the left side of attack from where he cuts infield to cause havoc much like Samuel Chukwueze on the other side albeit the AC Milan star do not feature in the game. 6/10.
Right sided winger: Kelechi Iheanacho
In the absence of the injured Samuel Chukwueze, Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro deployed forward Kelechi Iheanacho to the right side of the attack.
The stand-in captain made some attempts at scoring and even saw a ball hit the frame and woodwork of the post.
Made some decent crosses into the opposition box to find his teammate. Provided assist for the equaliser with a corner kick which Ajayi headed home. Handed the captaincy to Moses Simon when the latter came on. 7.5/10.
Second Striker: Taiwo Awoniyi
Nottingham first striker Taiwo Awoniyi was presented with Nigeria’s best scoring chance in the first half of the game but he lost it with a wasted effort.
Throughout the game, Awoniyi seemed lost of ideas and that noticeably showed in his club’s last league game against West Ham in the 3-2 defeat despite scoring one of the goals for Forest. 4/10.
Striker: Victor Boniface
Bayer Leverkusen star Victor Boniface struggled to impress despite the opportunity presented by the injury and absence of SS Napoli hitman Victor Osimhen.
Boniface did hit the foot of the bar in the second half which was one of the highlights of the game as the Eagles searched desperately for a winning goal, but it begs the question if the striker can play upfront alone without Osimhen playing in front of him. Created a few promising chances though. 5/10.
Moses Simon: Was handed the captain’s armband when he came off the bench by Kelechi Iheanacho.
Simon, operating from the wings gave his markers nightmares and was unlucky to see one of his shots struck the bar. 7/10.
Terem Moffi: Failed to replicate his Ligue 1 form for the Super Eagles when he came off the bench as the team went looking for salvation. 4/10.
Bruno Onyemaechi: Onyemaechi who was praised for the promise he showed in the AFCON qualifiers back in September was not as effective as Jamilu Collins when he came off the bench. 3/10.
Ola Aina: The Nottingham Forest right back could not effect the game with the limited time he was in action in the second half. 3/10.
Joe Aribo: Continues to divide opinion as most supporters are not happy over his laid back demeanour. He is not assertive and contributed nothing special wh en he came on.
His criticism of not playing much for his club is a valid point. 2.5/10.
Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.
In October 2004, Okosi joined Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports newspaper and Complete Football magazine as a reporter and later script writer for the Complete Sports studio.
He worked there for 13 years until October 2017.
Okosi also worked various times as Correspondent, Content creator and Editor at Sports Market International Magazine, Opera News, All Nigeria Soccer Media and Iconic Media Watch.
He also undertook freelance writing gigs for some local and international organizations.
Okosi is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Voiceover Artistes of Nigeria (AVOA), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He has been part of cast in some Nollywood movies and radio dramas including Blood Money 2, Scores To Settle, Dead End 2, Another Campus Tale and Battle Line.
Aside mainstream media and the entertainment industry, he has interests in scouting/unearthing of talents in the sports and creative sectors, exports business and property development.