Samuel Kalu 8/10 as Super Eagles qualify for AFCON

Nigeria celebrate Samuel Kalu's opener vs. Bafana Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

A 1-1 draw against Bafana Bafana on Johannesburg on Saturday was enough for the Super Eagles qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with one game to spare.

Samuel Kalu excelled in an unfamiliar wing-back role, and forced the opener, but who else impressed for Nigeria?


After missing two tournaments, and starting qualification badly, sealing the ticket with one game to spare is a credit to the character of Gernot Rohr's side.

Despite a few hiccups, the defence held firm, and Ikechukwu Ezenwa barely had a save to make.


After the high of exhilarating games against Libya, the disjointed nature of the Nigerian team was cause for some concern.

There were too many sub-par performances across the park.


Gernot Rohr, 6

The German switched things up and went three at the back, closing the spaces for South Africa's passing game and smothering their movement early.

However, the major reason appeared to be conserving energy as a result of the weather and altitude.

He lost points for not bringing on Isaac Success earlier, even though it was clear that Kelechi Iheanacho was struggling

PLAYER RATINGS (out of 10. Players introduced after 75 minutes get no rating)

Ikechukwu Ezenwa 6

Barely tested, but handled what came his way competently. There was little he could do about the goal, although his deliveries from dead balls continue to be a disappointment.

Jamilu Collins 7

Slow start for the left-back, as he struggled early at wing-back. Lost Hlatshwayo on an early free kick that could have been a goal.

Did not offer quite as much going forward as he usually does but made two crucial interventions

Samuel Kalu, 8

Man of the match by a mile. Despite his unusual deployment, took players on, played combinations with Musa, and then whipped in a tantalising ball for the opener.

Later, he tracked all the way back to make a desperate tackle that saved a goal, then did it again later in the half.

This was an all-round complete performance.

William Troost-Ekong, 6

Playing at the centre of the back three, lost Percy Tau and then Lebo Mothiba too many times in the first half as the Bafana players rotated.

He took some time to get a read on the long ball over the top to Tau, but came close to scoring from a headed delivery

Leon Balogun, 6

Like his centre-back partners, he seemed to have trouble with balls over the top by the South Africans in the first half.

Better second half than the first.

Kenneth Omeruo, 7

It was a fine game from the Leganes defender, who will now have well and truly exorcised the ghosts of that draw from the 2015 qualifiers, when illness saw him brutally exposed by Tokelo Rantie.

Especially in the second half, when he muscled Thulani Serero off the ball in much the same way as he himself was some three odd years ago.

Chased down Tau when the Bafana striker tried to get in behind.

Could have scored from a corner but headed inches wide.

Oghenekaro Etebo, 5

Uncharacteristic tardy display from him on the day. Gave away possession, mistimed tackles and just could not direct traffic in midfield.

Won one early ball that set Musa up for a one on one with Khune, but the skipper was called for offside.

John Ogu, 6

Only his first start since lining out against Algeria about a year ago, Ogu was solid without being outstanding.

Played a tidy game; won tackles, made clearances, but was also guilty of some tardy passing.

Alex Iwobi, 5

Another player who delivered an uncharacteristically sub-par display. His little tricks mostly kept failing to come off, and his control let him down one time too many.

Almost got redemption when his threaded pass was driven in by Ahmed Musa, but the goal was wrongly called for offside.

Ahmed Musa, 6

Not the best game for the Nigeria captain. Plenty of running in the first half, and almost scored after great combination play with Iheanacho and Kalu.

Called offside unfairly, and also had what looked like a legitimate winner chalked off for offside.

Kelechi Iheanacho 5

Iheanacho lasted 68 minutes, but in fairness should have been hauled off at half-time.

Not much fell for him on the day, as he cut a largely ineffectual presence.

However, is quality shone in that early exchange with Musa, and again when he played his skipper through against Khune.


Isaac Success, 5

His first order of business was to make his physical presence felt by Thamsanqa Mkhize and then Thulani Hlatshwayo.

Was better placed than Musa for the goal that was ruled out, but it may have stood if he had been the one to take it on.

Henry Onyekuru, N/R

Semi Ajayi, N/R