Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon suffered a massive setback Friday when they failed to beat Egypt in a must-win game in Kaduna.
The Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw by Egypt, who thus stay on top of group G with seven points and host Nigeria in a reverse fixture in Alexandria on Tuesday.
Nigeria have five points with Tanzania on four points.
Oghenekaro Etebo put Nigeria ahead on the hour, when he scrambled home off a rebound after Kelechi Iheanacho’s sizzler came off the post.
However, in stoppage time, Mohammed Salah broke an offside trap by the home team to draw Egypt level.
Nigeria bossed ball possession after a bright start to the game, but Egypt have threatened on the counter.
Super Eagles goalkeeper Carl Ikeme pulled off the first big save of the day when he put out his foot to block a goal-bound effort by Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’ after 18 minutes.
Egypt goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi was also at his best in the closing moments of the game when he turned away a low, goal-bound shot by Kelechi Iheancho in the 45th minute.
In first half stoppage time, subdued Odion Ighalo failed to direct his shot from inside the box with the Egypt defence at his mercy.
Eagles shot stopper Ikeme was forced to make another big save after 65 minutes as Egypt chased for an equaliser.
In the 72nd minute, Ahmed Musa was denied by Egypt goalkeeper Ahmed El-Shennawi, whose strong hand kept out a goal-bound shot by the CSA Moscow star.
Six minutes from time, Victor Moses went clean on goal after he was released by Iwobi but his shot was cleared off the goal line by Hamada Tolba. It was Nigeria’s biggest chance of the second half.
And just when Nigeria thought they had shaded this contest, Salah stole in to draw Egypt level at the death.