June 6, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

Super Eagles’ fumbling and ‘wombling’ quest for AFCON honours worries Nigerians

WHEN the Super Eagles of Nigeria take on Guinea-Bissau in their final group game on Monday, January 22, they should know it took the skin of the teeth to get them thus far.
Without Troost-Ekong’s calm calculation, and Napolitano Osimhen’s “most valuable player” showing against host Ivory Coast on Thursday, the story might be different now.
Once, an old coach of a Nigerian national football team in not too distant history was surprised our people were angry whereas “we are fumbling and ‘wombling’ to victory.”
William Troost-Ekong of Nigeria’s Super Eagles may as well repeat that jibe after he on Thursday, January 18 evening, staved off hosts Ivory Coast’s Elephants’ onslought to post a 1-0 victory against the home lads through conversion of a second-half spot kick.
Super Eagles take on Guinea-Bissau in their final group game on Monday, January 22.
Nigeria’s coach José Peseiro’s men were third on the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) Group A table, after Equatorial Guinea’s 4-2 victory over Guinea-Bissau in their second group game.
Despite being the underdogs, it was the Super Eagles who reigned supreme, thanks to William Troost-Ekong’s spectacular penalty.
As expected, both teams came out all guns blazing, with the defences trying to keep each other in check.
Although, the first half ended goalless, there was a plethora of actions, as both sides registered at least six shots at goal.
The Ivoiriens had most of the ball in the first half (60% possession), three of their six shots were on target, but Chippa United’s Stanley Nwabali made some fine saves, denying them their first goal.
Conversely, the Super Eagles lacked efficiency in front of goal. While they had more shots (7) than the Elephants, none of those shots hit target.
Indeed, superstar boy Victor Osimhen literally gave Nigerians a heart attack with his miss.
Peseiro’s side also won the set-piece battle, as Nigeria had five corners to Ivory Coast’s two.
The Super Eagles’ fortunes improved in the second half. Just a few minutes after resumption, Ousmane Diomande fouled Napoli’s Victor Osimhen inside the box.
Of course, this had to be checked by VAR, and after a couple of minutes, the Super Eagles were awarded the penalty. Calm and composed, Nigeria’s captain, Troost-Ekong, converted from the spot.
The PAOK defender has now scored in three consecutive AFCON events. He’s Nigeria’s top-scoring defender in this competition.
The Ivoiriens tried, to no avail, to get back on level terms. The Super Eagles’ defence proved to be too much for them, as none of Ivory Coast’s seven second-half shots went on target.
Super Eagles claim all three points in a tightly-contested fixture, a well-deserved victory.
As it stands, Nigeria are currently second on the Group A table, having accumulated four points from two matches so far, with a +1 goal difference.
Peseiro’s men are tied on points with group leaders, Equatorial Guinea, but behind on goal difference.
Ivory Coast, on the other hand, have dropped to third on the table with four points: hey’ll have an opportunity to salvage their Nations Cup campaign when they face Equatorial Guinea in the third round.