Ghana has a herculean task to surmount in its quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after the Black Stars were held by the Super Green Eagles to a goalless drawn game at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, on Friday.
The Stars failed to break a resolute Nigerian side despite dominating in the encounter, leaving the country’s chances in a precarious situation.
Playing in front of mammoth home fans, the Black Stars enjoyed early possession of the ball but failed to make their dominance count as the Nigerians warmed themselves into the game as it progressed
Victor Osimhen on the hand squandered a glorious chance in the 21st minute after Sanusi Zaidu sent in a decent cross from the left side of the attack.
After the 27th minute, Nigeria took control of the game, but Issahaku nearly broke the deadlock against the run of play when he launched a long drive from 25 yards.
His effort was however saved by goalkeeper Francis Uzoho who had been one of the brightest spots of the Nigerians at that point.
The Black Stars continued to probe for the opener but found it difficult to penetrate the defence of the Eagles built around Ekong with Zaidu and Ola Aina doing all the clearances from the danger zone.
After ending the first half goalless,â€¯the Black Stars resumed the second half just as they did in the first half as they piled pressure on the visitors in search of an early goal.
This forced coach Austin Eguavoen to make two quick substitutions in the 57th minuteâ€¯to contain the incessant pressureâ€¯and also consolidate the midfield which was dominated by the Stars.
As expected, his changes yielded results with the Eagles upping their game and nearlyâ€¯found the back of the net but for a brilliant save by Joojo Wollocot.
With 20 minutes to end proceedings, Issahaku danced through a forest of legs and delivered a curler that almost beat the Nigerian goalkeeper.
The stadium went dead silent in the 75th minute when the referee Reduoane Jiyed awarded a penalty to Nigeria but had to rescind his decision after consulting the VAR for a foul on Baba Iddrisu.
Despite the last push for the winner by both sides, the match ended without a goal, setting the stage for a showdown in Abuja on March 29, for the final decider.