In a thrilling encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia, Nigeria emerged victorious with a 3-2 win over Sierra Leone, securing their spot at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Here are Soccernet.ng‘s key takeaways from this exciting match.
Victor Osimhen was the star of the show, delivering an outstanding performance for the Super Eagles. The Napoli striker netted two crucial goals in the first half, breaking the deadlock and doubling Nigeria’s lead.
These goals marked Osimhen’s first for the national team since June 2022 and propelled him to the top of the AFCON qualification goals chart with seven strikes.
Victor Osimhen’s stellar performance not only propelled Nigeria to victory but also earned him a remarkable milestone.
With his two goals, Osimhen now boasts 17 international goals, surpassing the likes of Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa to join Samson Siasia in joint-sixth position on Nigeria’s all-time scoring chart.
Adebayo Adeleye’s decent debut
Goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye made his Super Eagles debut against Sierra Leone.
Although he conceded two goals, the Israeli-based shot-stopper showcased his skills with several impressive saves, denying Sierra Leone crucial scoring opportunities.
Peseiro’s substitute decision
One aspect that raised eyebrows was Jose Peseiro’s decision regarding substitutions.
The removal of Bright Osayi-Samuel, who had a strong impact as the right-back, seemed to have an adverse effect on Nigeria’s defence.
His replacement, Kevin Alpoguma, struggled to tame Sierra Leone’s attack from the left wing, allowing the Leone Stars to gain an advantage during that period of the match.
Nigeria’s central defensive pairing concerns
The match against Sierra Leone highlighted Nigeria’s search for a reliable central defensive pairing in the absence of William Troost-Ekong.
Kenneth Omeruo and Semi Ajayi were at the centre of the Super Eagles defence but allowed two goals from the Leone Stars.
This performance raises questions about defensive stability and the need for a consistent and dependable central defensive pairing going forward.
Despite the victory, the goals conceded will undoubtedly be a matter of concern for the Nigerian coaching staff.
Nigeria’s AFCON qualification
Thanks to their hard-fought victory, Nigeria’s Super Eagles have secured their place at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Sitting atop Group A with 12 points from five games, the three-time African champions can now focus on their last match against Sao Tome and Principe on home soil without the pressure of qualification hanging over their heads.