The Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw by Tunisia at the Jacques Lemans Arena on Tuesday night after Mohamed Drager’s fine finish just before halftime cancelled out Kelechi Iheanacho’s brilliant opener.
Gernot Rohr’s men showed more urgency in midfield, displayed better coordination in attack, and remained solid at the back in a performance that was better than at any point against Algeria last Friday.
Soccernet.ng brings you a rundown of how the players performed against the 2004 Afcon champions.
Maduka Okoye: Impressive
The young goalkeeper surprisingly started in goal again when it appeared more likely to see a change of personnel between the posts.
The Sparta Rotterdam goalie continues to win more fans with another fine outing.
Okoye punched crosses well, saved shots cleanly, and was decent with the ball at his feet.
He could do little, though, to stop the Tunisian equalizer just before halftime as his defense went to sleep to allow the North Africans to slip in behind.
The youngster still needs to command his area well and improve his communication with his defence line.
Kevin Akpoguma: Unlucky
The Hoffenheim defender missed two huge chances in the first half to make his first start for the Super Eagles a goalscoring one.
The full-back showed massive presence on either end of the pitch. His mobility and willingness to run make him an added asset when Nigeria attacked and helped him recover quickly when the team lost possession.
Akpoguma looked so comfortable out there one would think this was his 20th cap and not his second.
Moved to centre-back after Balogun was replaced shortly after the interval.
Kenneth Omeruo: Rusty
The Leganes defender got into the starting eleven against Tunisia after sitting out the game versus Algeria.
The absence of William Troost-Ekong opened the door for him to lead the Nigerian defence, but he was far from brilliant on the night.
Omeruo’s lack of pace and rustiness was all on show when Tunisian full-back Rafia got past him again and then again before setting up the Carthage Eagles equalizer.
He grew into the match, though, committing fewer errors as the game unfolded.
Leon Balogun: Magnificent
The former Mainz man was Nigeria’s best defender by some distance.
Difficult to dribble past, Tough to beat in the air, and brilliant when taking the ball calmly out of the defence, Balogun was faultless throughout the game.
The equalizer was no fault of his, and the 31-year-old Rangers centre-half still has the quality to play in a League a notch above the Scottish top division.
He was substituted early in the second half for Chidozie Awaziem after picking up a knock.
Zaidu Sanusi: Convincing
After an impressive debut on Friday when the Super Eagles lost to Algeria, the Porto full-back kept his starting spot against Tunisia.
He did well once again, and regular left-back Jamilu Collins should be worried that a worthy challenger has finally sbobbedd for that portion of the field Nigeria has not competently shored up since the days of Celestine Babayaro and Ifeanyi Udeze.
He bobbed up and down the left-wing in support of Moses Simon. His shots, though, are often wayward, and he needs to work hard on his many over-hit crosses.
Collins took his place midway into the second 45.
Semi Ajayi: Versatile
Head coach Gernot Rohr must have been impressed with Ajayi’s work rate and display against Algeria in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role to hand him another starting shirt ahead of Frank Onyeka and Mikel Agu tonight.
The West Brom centre-back harried and hassled the Tunisian in the middle of the park and was as tenacious as any player on the field tonight.
His passes sometimes were sloppy, and his positioning often left much to be desired.
But you couldn’t fault his attitude and effort. And it is not easy for anyone to deputize for Wilfred Ndidi.
Alex Iwobi: Excellent
The Everton midfielder, for the second game in a row, was one of Nigeria’s best players by a country mile.
Iwobi was involved in many of the Super Eagles finest moments and could have claimed a couple of assists but for the profligacies of the attackers in front of him.
The former Arsenal man provided the perfect pass that led to Nigeria being awarded a penalty in the first half.
Good movement on and off the ball troubled the Tunisians without end, and he flourished with more attacking options ahead of him.
Samuel Chukwueze: Brave
The Villarreal winger should be applauded for stepping up his game a bit after that dour performance on Friday.
Still, it was not up to what his quality can deliver.
Chukwueze, though, is becoming a known quantity in football, and it was no surprise that there were two or more defenders on him any time he had the ball.
The former Golden Eaglets star made way for debutant Chidera Ejuke late on.
Moses Simon: Exciting
Simon showed what a top performer he was in an exciting first 45 minutes when he caused a lot of worries to the defence of the Carthage Eagles.
His final pass at times could have been better, but his pace and trickery created space for his teammates to run into.
A burgeoning partnership can be sensed between the Nantes winger and new fullback Sanusi.
Kelechi Iheanacho: Topsy-Turvy
Iheanacho opened the scoring for the Super Eagles after some brilliant footwork in the opponents’ box.
The Leicester City forward could have put his team two-nil up, but his penalty kick, won by Ahmed Musa, was saved by the Tunisian keeper.
That’s the summary of his night, though, as he could be excellent one minute and be careless the very next.
He, however, put in his fair share of work to ensure Nigeria was not left lightweight in a midfield that had Ajayi as the only defensive-minded player.
Ahmed Musa: Slowing down
The Super Eagles’ skipper has enjoyed some fantastic games for Nigeria, but this was not one of them.
Musa did well to win a penalty kick shortly after the game’s opener, the conversion of which would have made the evening more comfortable for the team.
But he was anonymous for large chunks of the encounter.
And in moments when he laboured to exercise some form of influence, his waning pace let him down.
With the likes of Samuel Chukwueze and Moses Simon dominating Nigeria’s wings, Musa may not get many chances to add to his 93 caps for the Super Eagles.
Chidozie Awaziem took up a position on the right side of the defence after replacing Balogun, with Akpoguma switching to the centre to finish the game as Omeruo’s partner.
Jamilu Collins also relieved Sanusi to tuck in at left-back. He did his bit, though, to ensure Nigeria didn’t concede any late goal.
An eye-popping debut for Chidera Ejuke on the night, with the CSKA Moscow man seemingly on a mission to embarrass the host of the Tunisians with his dribbling. A bit selfish but certainly lively. We should see more of him in the coming days.
Cyriel Dessers finally made his Super Eagles debut as a late replacement for Ahmed Musa. But there was to be no camera finish for the Genk man as the encounter petered out in the closing stages.