Tuesday 16 January 2018

Video: Nigeria goalkeeper spared blushes after bizarre 'own goal’ is disallowed

Nigeria's Austine Ejide looks-on as Scotland's Charlie Mulgrew (not pictured) scores last night
Nigeria's Austine Ejide looks-on as Scotland's Charlie Mulgrew (not pictured) scores last night

Simon Peach

Nigeria goalkeeper Austin Ejide was spared the ignominy of scoring one of the most bizarre own goals in international football history last night when referee Lee Probert judged he had been fouled by Scotland’s Grant Hanley.

Ejide, part of an experimental Nigeria team who drew 2-2 in a pre-World Cup friendly at Craven Cottage, somehow contrived to paw a harmless looking corner into his own net from outside his six-yard box.

Ejide was challenged by Hanley as he did so, but Premier League referee Probert’s decision to penalise the Scot seemed highly generous to the hapless Nigerian goalkeeper.

Video clips of the comical error were posted almost immediately on websites, drawing responses which combined bafflement and amusement.

Although Ejide’s gaffe was ruled out, Nigeria defender Azubuike Egwuekw did score an own goal, and in only marginally less slapstick fashion.

Egwuekew deflected a cross from Alan Hutton past Ejide and into his own net to give Scotland a 2-1 lead before Uche Nwofor grabbed a late equaliser.

The build-up to the match had been overshadowed by the revelation that police were investigating potential attempts to fix the game.

Officers from the National Crime Agency are understood to have asked Fifa to issue an alert over the threat to the match, and it is understood that a South American football official is being investigated as part of the inquiry.

There have been no suspected indications as to whether the alleged scam involves spot fixing or match outcome. There is no suggestion of players being involved in any potential scam.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi issued an angry defence of his players’ integrity. Keshi said: “We did [talk about it] because it’s something ridiculous, something that we don’t know where it’s coming from. We’re not gamblers, we are football players. I don’t even know where that is coming from, we don’t know what happened, match fixing or no match fixing.

“This is the first time I’ve been a coach or been a player and the first time I’m hearing this, match-fixing. I don’t think it had anything to do with our build-up or the game.”

Fifa’s former head of security warned yesterday that match-fixers may seek to target England’s pre-World Cup friendlies because they are seen as “a challenge” by criminal organisations.

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