Super Eagles pip 2023 AFCON’s host, Cote d’Ivoire, 1-0

NIGERIA’s senior men’s football team, Super Eagles’ beat the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) host, Cote d’Ivoire, 1:0 on Thursday, January 18,  in the second-round group match.

The match was played at the Ebimpe Olympics stadium.

The match, which ignited a long-time rivalry between the two countries, was crucial to both nations qualifying from the group stage due to a 4-2 victory by Equatorial Guinea against Guinea-Bissau earlier in the day.

The match lived up to expectations as both countries displayed a high contest to get the maximum victory.

But the Super Eagles’s lone goal via penalty kick by captain Williams Troost-Ekong in the 55 minutes decided the victory for Jose Peseiro-led team which held a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea in their opening match.

Peseiro adopted a tactical change by deploying a 5-4-1 formation against Cote d’Ivoire, which was a tweak from the 4-4-3 formation he used in the first match.

The 5-4-1 formation saw the introduction of central defender Calvin Bassey pairing Williams Troost-Ekong. Also in the midfield, Frank Onyeka replaced Alhassan Yusuf, who sustained injuries during the first match against Equatorial Guinea.

The 5-4-1 formation against Cote d’Ivoire saw the Super Eagles struggle to have more attack at their opponents’ home, as Victor Oshimen was left bare.

But 10 minutes into the match, Nigeria had an opportunity to take the lead, but Osimhen’s effort went wide.

A few minutes later, the host nation Cote d’Ivoire responded with attacks, but their attempts met the firm resilience of the Super Eagles defence.

After a series of football skills by both teams, the Super Eagles midfielders lacked composure, allowing their opponents to gain possessions.

The first half ended without clinical chances by either team.

But the resumption of the second half saw the Super Eagles increase the match’s tempo in search of goal.

The intense pressure bore as the centre referee awarded Nigeria a penalty after a review of the video assistant referees (VAR) of an attack on Oshimen, who was kicked on his leg by Cote D’Ivoire defender Evan Didomande.

William Troost-Ekong stepped up to take the penalty, giving the Super Eagles the lone goal, that earned the team the maximum three points.

In the 71 minutes, the Super Eagles coach brought in Moses Simon and Kenneth Omeruo to replace Samuel Chukwueze and Ademola Lookman to strengthen the defence.



    Also, Paul Onuachu replaced Victor Osimhen.

    Ten minutes before the end of the full-time, the Super Eagles had a couple of opportunities but lacked the technical ability to convert the chances.

    The match ended 1-0 in favour of the Super Eagles, gaining a maximum of three points to stay in second position with four points in Group A.

    Nigeria will play its third-round group-stage match against Guinea-Bissau on Monday, January 22, 2024.





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