Approximately 2,013 fans, mostly young ones had to brave the freezing weather in north-west London on Thursday night to grace this languorous international friendly between Nigeria and Senegal at the Barnet’s Hive stadium with Premier League referee Anthony Taylor calling the shots.
Senegal bossed the midfield, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye, as ever, presiding over it all with calm and quality, but Moussa Sow up front is far less mobile than Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, and looked very ordinary until Daniel Akpeyi dropped a 53rd-minute corner into his path for the opener.
Nigeria, who didn’t qualify for AFCON 2017, have a theoretically exciting attacking core, but neither Leicester’s Ahmed Musa nor Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi are in form – as for Kelechi Iheanacho, he can barely get a game for Manchester City. Of the Premier League contingent only Wilfred Ndidi showed himself in a good light.
Iwobi was particularly erratic, hooked on the hour for Oghenekaro after a performance notable far more for its errors than any incision in the No 10 role.
Iheanacho did get two glorious chances to score, scuffing a shot across the goal from 18 yards, and then somehow prodding wide from point blank range.
The City starlet managed to redeem himself with 10 minutes to go however, gliding onto a through ball and brought down by Pape Ndiaye, before getting up to convert the penalty and equalize for the not so super Super Eagles on the night.
The penalty was probably deserved, if only for Iheanacho’s persistent running.
He might even have won it with a snapshot wide in stoppage time, but neither side really did enough to win the game, or to entertain the sparse crowd – at least until the final whistle, at which point it became clear that the real buzz around the Hive was at the chance to get a selfie with the stars.
And the man everyone wanted to take a snap with was Senegal star Mane.