Nigeria U-23 team will face a tough challenge in qualifying for the 2015 All-Africa Games after wasting their chance to beat Zambia in the first leg fixture at the National Stadium in Abuja on Sunday.
The Young Chipolopolo proved pundits wrong in the encounter by forcing their hosts to a goalless draw before the Abuja fans.
Heading to the final round of the qualifiers, the Samson Siasia-led team dispatched Gabon 6-1 on aggregate in the first round.
The hosts were let down by their poor finishing especially from Junior Ajayi and Oghenekaro Etebo.
Siasia’s men saw plenty of possession but they had nothing to show after 90 minutes in Abuja as they wasted excellent chances.
Despite the introduction of Peter Onyekachi, there was nothing stopping the visitors from picking a positive result.
Nigeria pushed forward in the opening stages and it was Etebo looking to have an immediate impact, with his overhead kick hitting the woodwork.
Ajayi, who was later hauled off was looking the most likely for the homers and he should have done better but he scuffed his shot.
After the break the Zambians stuck to their pattern of soaking the pressure and slowly took the game to the hosts.
Nigeria might have sensed an opportunity to claim a win but it was a frustrating game for them.
It was a difficult day for the hosts as the away team held on to deny Nigeria and take a 0-0 draw into next month’s second leg fixture.
The result presents a challenge to seriously test Siasia’s credentials when both teams meet in the return leg at the Levy Nwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Saturday, April 4.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has disclosed that a delegation of the Ugandan team expected to face the Super Eagles in Wednesday’s friendly will arrive on Monday.
The delegation, comprising players and officials, will head to Uyo, Akwa Ibom State via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The Cranes, who gave Ghana’s Black Stars a scare in the qualifying race for the 30th Africa Cup of Nations and had a chance to make the finals until they lost their last match in the race to Guinea, will be aiming for a first ever victory on Nigerian soil.
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