Nigeria friendly marred in match-fixing allegations

Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide during a pre-World Cup friendly against Scotland in London,...

Nigerian goalkeeper Austin Ejide during a pre-World Cup friendly against Scotland in London, England on May 28. (AFP)

REUTERS

, Last Updated: 5:40 PM ET

An experimental Nigeria side featuring mainly fringe players and hopefuls began their World Cup warm-ups with a 2-2 draw with Scotland on Wednesday in a hugely entertaining game at Craven Cottage.

Although the African champions only rescued a draw with a 90th minute strike from substitute Uche Nwofor, they deserved it as they showed plenty of ambition, drive and attacking flair to encourage coach Stephen Keshi. His side face Iran, Bosnia and Argentina in World Cup Group F next month.

Scotland, went ahead through Charlie Mulgrew after 10 minutes before Michael Uchebo equalised for Nigeria four minutes before the break. Scotland regained the lead when Azubuike Egwuekwe put through his own net after 52 minutes before Nwofor struck just before the end.

There was a superb atmosphere outside Fulham's ground next to the River Thames prior to kickoff and an even better one inside with Scottish bagpipes swirling in the air to the beat of Nigerian drums.

One Nigerian fan held up a banner reading "Nigerians Don't Fix Matches, We Win Them!" in response to a report from Britain's National Crime Agency to the Scottish FA that Asian gamblers had targetted the match to fix.

A suspicious incident occurred in the 33rd minute when Nigeria's goalkeeper appeared to throw the ball in his own goal. The goal was disallowed, however, as the Scottish player was whistled for a foul on the play.

Scotland, who have not qualified for the World Cup but are now unbeaten in their last six matches, still had plenty to play for with coach Gordon Strachan honing his team for the Euro 2016 qualifiers that start later this year.

It was a fortunate opener though, with James Morrison's booming shot hitting Mulgrew's upraised foot. Mulgrew had his back to the goal but nevertheless sent the ball looping over goalkeeper Austin Ejide and into the net.

Nigeria equalised after 41 minutes when the tall, powerfully built Uchebo shot from the edge of the box and wheeled away in delight as the ball took a wicked deflection off Grant Hanley, wrong-footing goalkeeper Allan McGregor.

Scotland regained the lead when defender Alan Hutton played in a precise ball from the byline and with Hanley forcing in his shot, Egwuekwe turned the ball into the roof of his own net.

Nwofor equalised with an angled shot after Scotland failed to stop a Nigerian attack, and although Scotland had two goals disallowed, one for a foul on the Nigerian keeper and another for offside, the result was a fair one.


Photos