The Super Eagles were the favourites to defeat Equatorial Guinea, but they flattered to deceive
Victor Osimhen’s goal was not enough for Nigeria, as they were held to a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea in the opening game of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, Soccernet.ng reports.
Nigeria were the favourites to defeat the National Thunder at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, but they failed to deliver. Equatorial Guinea opened the scoring thanks to Iban Salvador, but Osimhen drew level in the 38th minute.
The Super Eagles huffed and puffed, but they failed to utilize their chances and ended up with a point after the game ended 1-1.
Soccernet.ng looks at five things we learned from the fixture.
1. Jose Peseiro seems to have lost trust in Samuel Chukwueze
Chukwueze has been a regular for the national team, but recently, he has struggled to make the starting eleven. Against Equatorial Guinea, the AC Milan man started from the bench. Instead, Peseiro started Simon, a traditional left-winger on the right.
This is not the first time, though- in Nigeria’s last two competitive games, Chukwueze has not started. When he was even introduced into the game against Equatorial Guinea, he failed to impress and hardly created anything.
2. Peseiro has to sort out his defence
In Peseiro’s reign as Super Eagles coach, the team has conceded goals aplenty. In their last five games, Nigeria has conceded seven goals. If it were against big teams, it would have been understandable, but Nigeria has conceded goals against teams like Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. As they say, goals win you games, but your ability to defend wins competitions.
3. Osimhen needs to start turning up when it matters most
Osimhen was the highest goalscorer during the qualifiers, but he has yet to make a mark in the biggest stages. In the World Cup qualifiers against Ghana in 2022, he had some good chances, but he did not put them away. Also, against Equatorial Guinea today, aside from his goal, he had other chances to score, but he failed to convert. Against Cote d’Ivoire, he would need to be at his best if Nigeria want to get anything from the fixture.
4. Nigeria still can’t utilize set-pieces
The Super Eagles had a lot of set-pieces again, but they failed to utilize them despite having tall players like Osimhen and Semi Ajayi. The deliveries were poor and hardly troubled Equatorial Guinea’s defence. If the Super Eagles are going to be successful, they need to start taking advantage of those opportunities.
5. The jury is still out on Nwabali
Peseiro shocked many fans with his decision to start Stanley Nwabili instead of Francis Uzoho. However, he had very little to do against Equatorial Guinea. He looked very relaxed in the game, but at the major moment, when he was called to action, he was left stunned by Salvador’s shot – he did not even move.
Against Cote d’Ivoire, he would face more shots on target, and that is when Nigerian fans would.be able to rate him properly.