FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Namibia 1 Nigeria 1
By Football News
Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw by Namibia in FIFA World Cup qualifying on Wednesday to set up a winner-takes-all match with Malawi.
A victory for Nigeria would have confirmed their place in the final African World Cup qualifying round but, despite dominating throughout, Stephen Keshi's side were unable to secure all three points in the Group F game in Windhoek.
The away side created all of the play in the first half, but the match went into the break at 0-0. Deon Hotto Kavendji then gave the hosts a surprise lead in the 77th minute, but Godfrey Oboabona's timely intervention with just seven minutes remaining rescued a point for Nigeria.
The Africa Cup of Nations champions have now gone 17 games without defeat and they face a crucial home match against Malawi in September that will determine who wins Group F and goes through to the final round of qualifying for Brazil 2014.
However, Namibia's slim hopes of reaching next year's showpiece in South America have now officially ended.
Nigeria dominated the opening exchanges and almost led in the sixth minute when John Obi Mikel put a low free-kick just wide of the post. Anthony Ujah should have then put the visitors in front in the 22nd minute when he raced through on goal, but put his effort straight at goalkeeper Virgil Vries.
Nigeria continued to create half-chances, but failed to deliver in the final third of the pitch and could not break Namibia's resistance before half-time.
The second period continued in the same vein with Sunday Mba going close in the 51st minute, but his goal-bound effort was deflected over the bar.
Freedom Puriza then had a rare glimpse of goal for Namibia when a mistake in the Nigerian defence saw the ball break for the hosts, but the striker could only shoot wide when presented with the opportunity.
Mikel then showed a bit of ingenuity in the 65th minute as a corner bounced loose in the box and the Chelsea midfielder hooked the ball back over his head towards goal, but it did not dip enough to go in.
The deadlock was finally broken against the run of play in the 77th minute, when substitute Kavendji gave Namibia an undeserved lead.
The ball broke on the left hand side, and the midfielder swept home the resulting cross with a left-foot volley past Vincent Enyeama from 12 yards, much to the delight of the home fans.
But their cheers were short-lived, as Nigeria full-back Oboabona equalised for the visitors in the 83rd minute with a 20-yard free-kick. Vries was wrong-footed but the Namibia keeper should still have kept the ball out, getting a weak hand on the strike as it squirmed into the roof of the net.
Both teams pushed for a late winner but the score remained at 1-1.