Kelechi Iheanacho (second right), Alex Iwobi (right) and other Eagles in ecstasy after Iheanacho score a goal.
Manchester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho’s penalty seven minutes from time secured a 1-1 draw with Senegal, preserving Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr’s unbeaten record on Thursday.
Veteran striker Moussa Sow had given the Senegalese — ranked five places higher than the Nigerians in the African football rankings — the lead early in the second-half.
That goal looked like giving the Teranga Lions a first win in their last 14 meetings, dating back to 1977, in a match watched by just over 2,000 diehard fans in Barnet.
The spectators had to sit through a pretty uneventful first 54 minutes before 31-year-old Sow struck to give Senegalese coach Aliou Cisse, one of the stars of their remarkable run to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, hope of ending the winless run.
Nigeria were unable to impose themselves despite Rohr selecting the likes of Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi, Leicester City duo Wilfred Ndidi and Ahmed Musa as well as Iheanacho.
However, Rohr withdrew Iwobi shortly after the hour mark sending on Oghenekaro Etebo and Isaac Success who replaced the ineffectual Moses Simon.
Cisse must have thought he had played his winning hand when he responded by sending on Liverpool star Sadio Mane with 25 minutes remaining.
However, it was the Super Eagles who were to find the wherewithal to equalise — even more impressive given that experienced hands like Jon Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo were not picked for the squad so they could have time to settle in their clubs in China.
For Rohr, whose side play Burkina Faso in a friendly once again in Barnet on Monday, it extends his unbeaten run since taking over last August to four, including two victories in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers over Zambia and Algeria which sees them four points clear of their rivals.
The two friendlies serve as a warm-up for hosting South Africa in June in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier before returning to the World Cup fray later in the year with games against Cameroon, Zambia and Algeria.
For Senegal, Equatorial Guinea await in June’s opening round of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers before they too turn their minds to their bid to reach Russia next year with games against Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa.
They are presently third a point adrift of Burkina Faso and South Africa.