The Leone Stars came from four goals down to secure a draw at the home of their more illustrious foes, and their gaffer is delighted with a second-half performance that blew their hosts off the pitch
Sierra Leone coach John Keister is pleased with how his team battled hard from a losing position to earn a credible 4-4 draw with three-time African champions Nigeria at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Friday evening.
Gernot Rohr’s men enjoyed a blistering start to the encounter, scoring four goals in the opening half-hour courtesy of strikes from Alex Iwobi, Victor Osimhen, and Samuel Chukwueze.
But Kwame Quee’s strike just before the break gave the visitors a slight ray of hope.
Coach Keister then made a few impact changes in the second half to turn the tide in the Leone Stars favour as goals from substitutes Rodney Strasser and Alhaji Kamara, who bagged two goals in the game, stunned the Super Eagles and many Nigerian fans.
Nigeria’s German tactician Gernot Rohr made changes too to his playing personnel with Semi Ajayi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Paul Onuachu, Chidera Ejuke replacing Leon Balogun, Ahmed Musa, Victor Osimhen, and Samuel Chukwueze, respectively.
But it was Keister’s tweaks which made the difference, and the Sierra Leonean gaffer has hailed his substitutes for hurting the Super Eagles.
“It’s a good result away from home especially coming into Nigeria, which we knew was going to be very difficult, we’re really happy,” Keister told Punch.
“We had a lot of respect for them in the first half. We showed them a lot of respect, which was why we had to come out, and that was why we came out in the second half.
“The difference was the changes that we made. We got some players we left out in the first half, and we were trying to work around the players we have, obviously, it didn’t work out, so we had to make the change.
“I’m not disappointed we didn’t win the match. We can’t be too greedy. We’ll take the draw; we’re going home to Freetown. I think it was a game of two halves.”
Despite the draw, Nigeria still leads Group L with seven points from three games.
The reverse fixture of the game is scheduled for Freetown on Tuesday, and a win for Nigeria could be enough for them to secure an early ticket to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.