Nigeria comes back twice to draw 2-2 with Scotland
LONDON (AP) — A 90th minute strike from substitute Uche Nwofor saw Nigeria come from behind for the second time to draw 2-2 with Scotland in a friendly international match in London on Wednesday.
In a match at Fulham’s home ground that had been the subject of allegations of attempted match-fixing, the forward, who had replaced Shola Ameobi in the 62nd minute, drilled the equalizer from close range following some slack Scottish defending.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said the allegations did not affect him or his team.
“I don’t even know where that is coming from, we don’t know what happened,” said Keshi. “It’s something ridiculous, something that we don’t know where it’s coming from. We’re not gamblers, we are football players.”
Nigeria had been behind for much of the match. Scotland had taken the lead as early as the 10th minute after a shot from midfielder James Morrison was flicked over the Nigeria goalkeeper Austin Ejide by Charlie Mulgrew.
Scotland then appeared to have doubled its lead in the 32nd minute but the firm header from Grant Hanley was disallowed for a foul on Ejide.
Following that let-off, Nigeria started to enjoy more possession and engineered a few chances. Its first equalizer came in the 41st minute, when forward Michael Uchebo strode forward and his shot took a big deflection off Hanley to deceive the Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor.
Scotland reclaimed the lead in the 52nd minute after defender Azubuike Egwuekwe put past his own goalkeeper from close range following a cross from Alan Hutton.
Nigeria strove hard in the final ten minutes to get back on level terms and was eventually rewarded with Nwofor’s goal.
The buildup to the game was dominated by the alleged match-fixing. On Tuesday, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that officers from the National Crime Agency were investigating attempts to fix Wednesday’s match.
Keshi left many of his star players, such as midfielder John Obi Mikel and striker Emmanuel Emenike, out of the squad to face Scotland as he tried out younger players ahead of a June 2 deadline to trim his World Cup squad to the FIFA requirement of 23.
Nigeria now takes its World Cup preparations to the United States where it will meet fellow qualifiers Greece and the U.S. Nigeria, the current Africa Cup of Nations champion, is in Group F alongside Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. It begins its campaign in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba against Iran on June 16.