Nigeria were defeated 1-0 by Uganda in an international friendly in Uyo on Wednesday, as goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama earned his 100th cap.
However, the 32-year-old’s celebration was ruined as Miya Faruku sent the visitors to an unlikely victory against their more established hosts.
With the Super Eagles in rebuilding mode after failing to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, acting coach Daniel Amokachi opted for a squad of six debutants and a couple of returning legs.
He paired Anthony Ujah and debutant Odion Ighalo in attack with Ahmed Musa, while Stephen Ukoh made his full Team A showing in midfield where he played with Ogenyi Onazi and Hope Akpan in the absence of injured John Obi Mikel.
While the central defense saw Kenneth Omeruo start as the only regular where he was paired with debutant Nelson Ogbonnaya, Leon Balogun returned to the right back and Chima Akas made his debut in left back.
Uganda coach Milutin Sredojevic also chose to start three debutants in Shafik Bakaki, Joseph Nsubuga and Derrick Tekwwo.
Goalkeeper and captain Denis Onyango and Geofrey Massa were the two most experienced of the lot and they made it count against their hosts.
While Nigeria were expecting to start stronger than they did against South Africa in their last competitive encounter, it was clear that the Eagles struggled to coordinate their play having had just one day of training before the game.
Early on, Ujah wasted his side’s best chance of the night when he was left free with only the goalkeeper to beat. Onyango spread himself and saved the Koln striker’s shot.
It was an omen of what was to come as Nigeria struggled to put together passes for most of the game.
While Enyeama was called to make his first save as the Cranes floated in a free kick, the first half left much to be desired.
Perhaps the idea of handing Enyeama a trophy to mark his centenary at half time by Akwa Ibom governor Godswill Akpabio and NFF president Amaju Pinnick came too early, the Ugandans came back determined to shake off their early respect for the three time African champions.
While Amokachi’s substitutions did not make the needed impact, it was debutant Akeem Latifu, on for Akas, who eventually tilted the game.
Clearly out of his depth on such a grand occasion, Latifu’s anxiety coupled with the string of good passing by the Cranes resulted in the game’s only goal.
Faruku, getting a pass in front of the Nigeria goal sent a deflected shot off Latifu that Enyeama could only parry into the net.
Even as the Nigerians tried to rally with the introduction of Sone Aluko, Simon Moses and Aaron Olanare, it was clear that they had left things too late.
At the end it was Sredojevic’s men that departed smiling as they left Enyeama’s centenary celebrations ruined.
Still the Super Eagles would need a lot of work before becoming a formidable side.
Nigeria will travel to Nelspruit to face South Africa on March 29 with hopes of improved performance from the boys.