Home team Swaziland recorded a huge morale lift when they held three-time African champions Nigeria to a goalless draw in Lobambo on Friday night in a 2018 World Cup qualifier.
Swaziland, ranked 130th in the world, fought toe-to-toe against their more illustrious visitors and have every reason to be proud of this result.
It was a disappointing result for the Super Eagles, who were widely expected to win both home and away in this first-ever match-up between the two countries.
Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho made his long-awaited Eagles debut with Obafemi Martins also seeing action in the second half after more than two years in the international wilderness.
In the 61st minute Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme pulled off his only big save of the night when his foot blocked a shot from inside the box.
Otherwise, the Eagles created the better chances with a free kick coming off the post after 57 minutes and both Ahmed Musa and Moses Simon threatened the Swaziland goal in the second half but resolute defending denied them.
From the first half the Super Eagles bossed the possession after they settled quickly into this contest, but it was not until the 25th minute that they created a clear-cut chance when Sylvester Igbonu’s acrobatic kick inside the box was headed out on its way to goal.
Three minutes later, Swaziland goalkeeper Gwebu made a double save to keep out the Super Eagles.
The major threat to the Nigeria goal was skipper Tony Tsabedze and big striker Ndzinisa, who made two attempts at goal in the first half which were off the mark to the relief of the Nigerians.
On a day of several shock results across the continent, Nigeria failed to make their experience and class to count, but they will still be expected to get the job done on Tuesday in Port Harcourt for them to reach the league phase of Russia 2018.
Nigeria – Carl Ikeme – Elderson, Shehu Abdullahi, Godfrey Oboabona, Efe Ambrose – Mikel (Obafemi Martins 71), Ogenyi Onazi, Sylvester Igbonu (Rabiu Ibrahim 46) (Kelechi Iheanacho 66) – Moses Simon, Ahmed Musa (Skipper), Odion Ighalo
Swaziland – Gwedu – Mdluli, Sanhele Mkhweli, Badenhorst, Ndzinisa, Lukhele, Mthunzi Mkhontfo, Dlamini, Njabulo Ndlovu, Tony Tsabedze (Skipper), Phumlani Dlamini