Harambee Stars of Kenya were three minutes away from causing a major upset in African football, but Nnamdi Oduamadi spared the Super Eagles the embarrassment of losing the 2014 World Cup qualifying match at U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar.
Nigerian fans who had expected another goal feast were put on the edge of their seats as the minutes ticked away even as the Eagles missed the few chances they managed to create. But the entire nation had Oduamadi to thank for not missing the last minute opportunity that fell on his path. He zipped in a re-bound on the dot of 90 minutes to bring the game level. There was no celebration as the Eagles players and their coaches seem drained by the encounter.
Frustration had set in after the Eagles failed to find the back of net in the first 15 minutes of the game. This was the result of a resolute defending by Kenya, they refused the Eagles space to make their ball possession count in the vital area. And during a counter attack move in the 36th minute, Elderson Echijile was adjudged to have fouled Victor Wayama at the edge of the box. Francis Nyambura gave Nigerians nightmare when he curled home from the edge of the box, Vincent Enyeama had no answer.
At the break the Eagles took the fight to the Kenyans, but they had no clue to unlocking the Harambee defence. Nyambura almost made it two for Kenya, after another run. But his shot rolled lazily off mark.
Obafemi Martins who had a subdued match almost got the equalizer, but his header was deflected over the bar and after this he was replaced by Ahmed Musa. Sunday Mba who was also unanimous in the midfield was replaced by Odumadi. Victor Moses made way for John Ogu and these changes brought more verve to the Eagles attack.
After the match, the Kenyans protested that the Botswana referee John Bondo added additional minutes after regulation time and this enabled the Eagles to equalize. The Harambee Stars players did not remember that during the match the referee had cautioned them for time wasting.
Kenneth Omeruo who emerged the man of the match stated that it was hard match. He got 5,000 dollars for his effort, while goal scorer, Odumadi was also rewarded with 5,000 dollars by Tom Tom.
“It was not an easy game. We were confident that we were going to beat them, but this was not to be. We created a lot of chances but we couldn’t put them away,” said Omeruo.
In the other group B qualifier Malawi beat Namibia at home to bring their points haul to five. Nigeria remain on top of the group on goal difference.