Goalkeeper Carl Ikeme had an amazing debut as the Super Eagles were held 0-0 by Taifa Stars of Tanzania in a 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.
Nigeria are now top of Group G with four points having beaten Chad 2-0 in their first group game. Egypt, who are on three points after their 3-0 defeat of Tanzania, play Chad on Sunday, in the other match of the group.
It was Sunday Oliseh’s first game in charge of the national team and the ex-Nigeria captain handed debuts to Ikeme, Amkar Perm midfielder Izunna Uzochukwu and FC Ufa striker Sylvester Igbonu, who came on for the returning Haruna Lukman in the 35th minute.
The first real chance of the game fell to Emmanuel Emenike in the 1oth minute but the Al Ain striker headed just wide under pressure from the Tanzanian defence, off a Moses Simon free kick.
But three minutes later, it was Carl Ikeme — in for the absent Vincent Enyeama — to the rescue for the visitors. The Wolverhampton keeper kept the Eagles in the game with a fantastic save.
Mrisho Ngasa outwitted two Nigerians inside the box, before unleashing an angled drive but Ikeme parried his close-range effort away. Trouble wasn’t fully averted but Farid Musa’s deflection almost went in with Ikeme beaten.
Ikeme, making his Nigerian debut at 29, pulled off another amazing save, when he tipped over Mbwana Samatta’s ferocious free kick in the 21st minute.
Captain Ahmed Musa replied for the Eagles two minutes later with a tricky free kick, which Ally Mustafa, in goal for Tanzania, could only parry for a corner.
Youngster Moses Simon connected Musa’s cross in the 38th minute but the 20-year-old winger’s first touch let him down, before his miscued shot went wide, inside the box.
Musa brought more spark into the Nigerian attack after the break. In the 51st minute, the CSKA Moscow winger outpaced his marker in the area and crossed straight at Mustafa, with no Nigerian in sight. He then opted to go for goal five minutes later but his shot went wide from close range.
Ngasa should have put the Taifa Stars ahead in the 64th minute, but under no pressure, he blasted his close range header wide with Ikeme transfixed. Ikeme then foiled another Tanzania move with an astonishing one-hand save from Thomas Ulimwengu.
The hosts piled more pressure forcing Ikeme to leave his area for a clearance.
Esperance man Emem Eduok hesitated, when he should have chipped the onrushing Mustafa inside the area, in the 84th minute. With the onrushing keeper out of his area, the Eagles failed to take advantage, with Anthony Ujah’s cross headed away.
The hosts were rampaging again in added time but Ikeme kept them quiet with a save from a dangerous cross in the 92nd minute to cap an astounding debut for the Eagles.