Nigeria finished their group stage campaign in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with another imposing win on Wednesday night.
The Super Eagles started their campaign with a brilliant 1-0 win over Egypt before seeing off Sudan 3-1 in their second group game.
The three-time African champions then made it three wins out of three with a 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday night.
Goals from Sadiq Umar and William Troost-Ekong sealed the win for Austin Eguavoen’s, making them the only team to win all of their three group games.
But aside from the goals, there were some other talking points from the game. Soccernet highlights some of these talking points ahead of their second-round clash against Tunisia.
Ejuke misses another chance: Coming into the tournament, Ejuke was expected to play a big role in the team, considering he was a player Eguavoen spoke about highly.
Although he did not start the first game, he made a cameo as a substitute. But while he was lively in the minutes he played, he did not do enough to stake a claim for a place in the starting lineup due to his selfishness.
He got into two promising positions but decided to go for goal when he could have set up a teammate. But despite his selfishness in the first game, Ejuke got another chance to impress on Wednesday night.
This time, he started the game. However, he never really imposed himself on the game while he also held onto the ball for too long sometimes.
It was not a surprise to see him come off for Moses Simon in the second half. And given the Nantes winger’s form in this tournament, it is unlikely that Ejuke will get more opportunities in the competition.
Umar Sadiq scores but he fails to impress: If Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis had not pulled out of the squad, Sadiq would not have been included.
But their withdrawals provided an opportunity for him, and it would have been unfair if he had missed out, considering he has scored 28 league goals in the last two seasons for Almeria in the Spanish second division.
Sadiq has played all of Nigeria’s games in the competition, coming on as a substitute in the first two games before starting against Guinea-Bissau.
Although he scored the opener against the Wild Dogs, the 24-year-old has failed to impress so far, and he is unlikely to get future call-ups.
Before his goal on Wednesday night, Sadiq failed to take his chances, especially on one occasion when he took the ball past the goalkeeper.
Not only that, his linkup play has not really been up to standard, while he is clumsy on the ball, which has always been his major flaw.
Ekong shows his quality: Ekong’s form was under scrutiny ahead of the tournament. His defending was suspect at Watford, giving away a penalty against Brentford, while he was also at fault for the first goal in the 4-2 loss to Leicester City.
However, Ekong has put in a commanding performance at the back for Nigeria in this tournament. The Super Eagles have only conceded just once in the competition, which came via the penalty spot.
In the absence of captain Ahmed Musa, he has been an imposing presence in the Super Eagles team. In the game against Guinea-Bissau, he made two clearances, one interception and had a goal to his game.
It was indeed a man of the match performance from him.
Moses Simon is the MVP: The only thing constant in football is how things change quickly, which is a bit of a paradox.
Simon was one of the most criticised players under former coach Gernot Rohr, but he has managed to win over his critics in this competition.
The Nantes winger has been Nigeria’s best player in the tournament and he is in contention for the Most Valuable Player Award.
Moses was involved in all of Nigeria’s attacks in the first two games and was at it again in the match against Guinea-Bissau.
Despite playing for just 33 minutes, the 26-year-old was all over the Wild Dogs defence. His brilliant piece of individual skill led to the second goal.
He had seven successful dribbles, managed one shot on goal and two shots off target, with one coming off the post.
It has indeed been his tournament.
The confidence keeps growing: Going into the tournament, fans confidence in the team was at an all-time low because of the performances, poor preparation and players withdrawals.
However, the feeling has changed following their incredible performance in the group stage. There’s the belief that they can go all the way and claim a fourth AFCON title.
And with a favourable route to the final after finishing top of Group D, it is all looking good for the Super Eagles.