Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles had given an exciting peek into their future with a brilliant first half against Ukraine in a September friendly game that ended in a 2-2 draw. That first half which Rohr said was the best performance of his Super Eagles career showed the young XI in their brilliant best, especially in attack.
Samuel Kalu and Samuel Chukwueze created chances with their guile from the wings, Victor Osimhen was a handful for defenders while Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo harried the middle with pace and intensity.
Next was another friendly game, this time against five-time world champions Brazil with their best players. It was a perfect opportunity to see how the new-look Super Eagles would look against top opposition as Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Casimiro, Ederson, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Gabriel Jesus, Dani Alves all lined up in a full-strength Brazil team.
The Super Eagles started off jittery, backing off from challenges and competing as the Brazilians played the ball around with ease.
Despite their dominance, it was Nigeria who had the first shot on target through Osimhen who had turned brilliantly at the edge of the Brazilian area to shoot at goal with his left football but Ederson was quick enough to go down and save.
The chance seemed to have given the Super Eagles confidence as they got more into the game although the Brazilian still had much of the ball.
In the 11th minute, Jesus was put through on goal at the edge of the Super Eagles penalty area but his effort after cutting to his left was blocked.
Despite Neymar going off injured for Philipe Coutinho, Brazil threatened the Super Eagles at every given opportunity.
Sitting back and waiting for the counter, the Super Eagles threatened from the right in the 17th minute as Iwobi picked out Chukwueze who was one-on-one with Renan Lodi but he couldn’t put in a cross.
A few seconds later, Chukwueze managed to squeeze in a cross which Marquinhos almost turned into his net for an own-goal.
Jesus was Brazil’s most dangerous player and in the 27th minute he directed a difficult header towards Nigeria’s goal but Francis Uzoho was quick to dive and save for a corner.
Uzoho saved again a few minutes later from Firmino who was picked out in the box by Coutinho but the Liverpool man saw his effort picked up by the Nigerian goalkeeper.
Against the run of play, the Super Eagles took the lead in the Joe Aribo in the 38th minute. Osimhen got the ball out wide and managed to find Moses Simon who kept possession to lay for an onrushing Aribo who dribbled past Silva before smashing past Ederson.
It was a fantastic goal for Aribo who has taken to life in the Super Eagles like a duck to water. That was his second goal in two games for the Super Eagles and just like he did against Ukraine, it was timely run into the box that put him in the right position to get the ball.
The Brazilians continued to dominate but the central defensive partnership of William Troost-Ekong and Semi Ajayi were compact and solid to keep the lead for the Super Eagles.
The second half started like the first ended with Brazil in control. Just three minutes after the restarted, they got their equaliser
Marquinhos got his head on a corner but his effort crashed against the post but Casimiro was quick to pounce on the loose ball to score.
The Super Eagles found it difficult going forward at this point although Osihmen managed a header from a Chukwueze cross which was very soft for Ederson.
It was all Brazil at this point as they launched wave after wave of attack. It took a last-ditch tackle from Wilfred Ndidi to stop Coutinho was settling to shoot at goal in the box while Uzoho dived well to have his best save of the game for a header from Jesus in the 55th minute.
A Jesus’ header crashed against the crossbar again from a corner in the 59th minute with Uzoho well beaten. The Nigerian goalkeeper landed badly on his knee and was stretched out.
Manchester City star Jesus was a live wire in the Nigerian defence and in the 72nd minute he got past two players on the left but his cross was intercepted for a corner.
Coutinho split the Super Eagles defence late on with a pass and got in a good position to receive the cutback but his effort was blocked by Ajayi before Maduka Okoye, who came on for Uzoho collected the ball.
Chukwueze managed to squeeze a shot with his right foot inside the Brazilian box in a rare Super Eagles attack while the Nigerian defence held firm to make sure the game ended 1-1.