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Int’l friendly: How Super Eagles handed Mali first win in 49 years

The Super Eagles were given a reality check by Mali’s Les Aigles as they succumbed to a 0-2 defeat in a friendly game in Marrakech,…

The Super Eagles were given a reality check by Mali’s Les Aigles as they succumbed to a 0-2 defeat in a friendly game in Marrakech, Morocco on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the rare win by the Malians against Nigeria was their first in 49 years.

Goals by El Bilal Toure and Kamory Doumbia sealed the win for Mali.

The last time Mali defeated the Super Eagles was on Sept. 5, 1975, also in a friendly which ended 4-1.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, the Eagles were unbeaten in eight straight fixtures against the Malians, recording five wins and three draws.

Interim coach, Finidi George, gave starting shirts to Jamilu Collins, Raphael Onyedika, and Kenneth Omeruo.

The trio replaced Bruno Onyemaechi, Frank Onyeka and Benjamin Tanimu, who all featured in the 2-1 win against Ghana on Friday.

The Malians dominated the early stages of the game and almost took the lead less than five minutes into the game, but were denied by goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali.

The breakthrough for Mali eventually came in the 14th minute as El Bilal Toure capitalised on a defensive error by Nigeria to score.

The Eagles were forced into a first-half change as Moses Simon went off injured in the 34th minute and was replaced by Cyriel Dessers.

The early part of the second half saw the Super Eagles start brightly but the Malian defence held firm.

Despite starting the half on a positive note, it was Mali who almost doubled their lead but the Eagles defence intercepted a dangerous cross from the left.

Dessers was presented an opportunity in the 65th minute as he was sent through on goal but blasted his shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat.

Iheanacho had a chance of his own barely a minute later but took a low shot which was parried away for a corner.

With 12 minutes left, the Eagles won a freekick in a decent position but Iheanacho’s floated attempt was again cleared away by the keeper.

Mali then doubled their lead in the 87th minute thanks to Kamory Doumbia who raced into the Eagles’ 18-yard box and fired past Nwabali to earn his side a well-deserved win.

Up next for the Super Eagles is the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June against South Africa who held Algeria to a 3-3 draw at the Nelson Mandela Stadium on Tuesday. (NAN)

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