13 October 2019
The champions of South America squared up against Africa’s third best team in Asia – that’s how global the game is now – as Brazil met Nigeria at Singapore’s national stadium in Kallang earlier today. The Super Eagles would have been the happier of the two teams with the 1-1 result, while the Selecao would rue not making their dominance reflect on the score sheet.
Brazil started well, dominating possession as expected, with Robert Firmino shooting just wide after two minutes. However, Nigeria threatened in the fourth minute when Victor Osimhen’s low drive, following a floated cross from Alex Iwobi, was palmed away by Ederson in the Brazilian goal.
Watch the highlights below.
Brazil lost their talisman Neymar 10 minutes into the game and he was replaced by Philippe Coutinho as they continued to dominate, while Nigeria looked dangerous on the break, especially with the pacy Samuel Chukwueze on the right. The Villareal winger’s cross in the 18th minute almost led to an own goal by Brazilian centre back Marquinhos, who sliced his clearance over the bar. Two minutes later Chukwueze skinned fullback Renan Lodi only to fail to find a Nigerian shirt. If Chukwueze ever improves on his final ball, he will be one helluva player.
Nigeria despite a few loose balls, exerted a modicum of pressure from the 20 minute mark. But this didn’t last long as their goalie Francis Uzoho pulled off two saves from efforts by Gabriel Jesus and Firmino in quick succession. The two forwards were easily finding space around the Nigerian back four.
As Brazil threatened, it was the Nigerians that surprisingly took the lead in the 35th minute. The impressive Osimhen, despite being starved of service, broke down the right and found Moses Simon on the left, who laid the ball off to Joe Aribo arriving late into the box. It looked like the chance was gone when the Glasgow Rangers midfielder didn’t shoot first time. But he controlled the ball, went past Marquinhos and finished neatly.
Brazil came out strongly after the break and their pressure paid off two minutes later when Casemiro drew them level in a move that came from a short corner that was then crossed into the Nigerian box. The Nigerian defence failed to deal with the second and third ball, as the cross was headed onto the post and Casemiro slotted in the rebound.
10 minutes later Uzoho saved his country from going behind. And when he was beaten two minutes later by a Casemiro header, the upright came to Nigeria’s rescue. Uzoho was then stretchered off with Maduka George coming on for his debut. A combination of luck and poor finishing meant that he was really tested. The closest Brazil came to increasing their tally was with five minutes of regular time left when a Coutinho shot was cleared off the line.
None of the Nigerian subs, Paul Onuachu, Emmanuel Dennis, Peter Olayinka and Ramon Azeez, who came on for Osimhen, Chukwueze, Simon and Iwobi did much to press their case for starting positions. Nigeria was hanging on for dear life without giving Brazil much to think about as the game petered out. But Aribo was still full of running and nearly punished Brazil again on the break before he was stopped by a cynical foul by the experienced Thiago Silva.
Despite reservations about the performance, it was a respectable result against the five-time world champions. Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr should be encouraged by the performances of Aribo, Osimhen and the calm Semi Ajayi in central defence. Simon also caused Dani Alves problems on the left and he seems to have finally recognised the importance and effectiveness of simplicity.
That said, whenever you watch Nigeria, you can’t help but wonder that a very good team is lurking behind the iffy performance, waiting to jump out.