On a cold and windy night in the North, The Super Eagles watch ended in Egypt as they went down 2-1 to Algeria in what was another semifinal defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Going into the game, the Super Eagles were hoping to make their first final since 2013 and also end their poor semi-final record. The Super Eagles have made the semifinals of the competition a record-equalling 15 times, but have only gone on to win the title on just three occasions compared to Egypt who have won the competition seven times and have also made the semifinals 15 times.
Last night’s defeat to Le Fennecs added to the unwanted record but the Eagles cannot have any complaints as they were second best throughout the encounter. Although the manner of the defeat may be a hard pill to swallow, Algeria were deserved winners as they were better in all areas of the pitch.
For Nigeria, they are left to reflect on yet another semi-final exit as they prepare for the third-place match against Tunisia on Wednesday. Nevertheless, they can hold their heads high for what has been a successful tournament although some would disagree.
But in fairness, it would be harsh to call their run to the semifinal a failure given the current state of the team. It is important to note that this team is still young and for most members, this is their second major tournament and first AFCON tournament.
The last time Nigeria qualified for the nations cup was in 2013 which they won. But since then they have missed out on qualification until this year. It would have been a great feat if they went all the way given there are more established teams than the Super Eagles.
The likes of Senegal, Algeria, Morocco and Egypt were well equipped than us going into the tournament given they have the experience of playing in previous editions. Going into the tournament, the general consensus from Nigeria football fans is that a Semifinal feat will be a success for the team which makes criticism levelled against the team ridiculous.
While it is accepted, they could have done better with their performances, it is important to also note they knocked out teams like defending champions (Cameroon) and South Africa who knocked out Egypt.
This is a team where just three of the members have the experience of playing in an Africa Cup Of Nations. To knock out Cameroon and South Africa is a feat that should be celebrated alone.
While many will point to the abundance of talents we have in the team, the same can also be said about Morocco who were the second favourites going into the competition.
However, the Atlas Lions suffered a second-round defeat to Benin which shows how impressive Super Eagles run to the semifinals was. The Nigerian team made it this far despite the lack of quality in the goalkeeping department and also in the fullback positions as pointed out by popular sports journalist Biola Kazeem.
The Super Eagles made it to the semifinals without real quality in the goalkeeping and fullback positions. Close as we can to making the final, the reality is that a semifinal is actually a good achievement for this team.
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) July 15, 2019
Been a good run for the Super Eagles. No shame in losing to the best team in the tournament in my estimation. They have simply been unstoppable.And their fans have been the best.Full of colour & passion & they make such great noise.#TotalAFCON2019#VisaUnstoppableStories pic.twitter.com/dtp2uV60Ln
— Babanla (@biolakazeem) July 14, 2019
Though they may not have played exciting football bar the games against Cameroon and South Africa, it is important to say only the best team in the competition could only stop them and that’s through a moment of genius from Riyad Mahrez.
This team should hold their heads up high and look forward to the 2021 edition in Cameroon with the hope of going all the way. The experience they garnered from Egypt should put them in a good position and with new players also coming in, it won’t be far fetched to say this team will go all the way in two years time.