February 24, 2024

Nigeria’s Super Eagles defeated Ivory Coast’s Elephants in the second match of  the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON).

William Troost-Ekong’s second-half penalty was the only difference as Nigeria defeated the hosts at the Olympic Stadium in Ebimpé, Abidjan on Thursday.

This victory was the Super Eagles’ first win in a competitive game since September 2023. The result also ended the team’s awkward winning streak at four.

The Super Eagles entered the match under immense pressure after drawing 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea in their first match.

However, Super Eagles’ head coach Jose Peceiro made only one change to the starting lineup from the previous game.

Calvin Bassey replaced Alhassan Youssouf, who was absent due to injury in the match against Ivory Coast.

Despite playing against the home team, in the opening minutes of the end-to-end game the Eagles were the superior team.

Victor Osimhen almost gave Nigeria the lead in the eighth minute when he split the defense after receiving a pass from Samuel Chweze. However, the Napoli striker let the ball escape.

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The duo of Ademola Lookman and Chukwueze were effective on both flanks for the Eagles, along with Ivorian full-backs Serge Aurier and Ghislain Konan.

However, the match ended almost abruptly for Nigeria at the start of the second half.

Ousmane Diomande caught Osimhen’s heel inside the Ivorian goal area and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Ekong took the penalty shot directly and powerfully into the center.

The Eagles achieved a decisive victory and moved into second place in the group with four points.

Nigeria will play Guinea-Bissau in their final group match on January 22nd.

PLAYER RATINGS

Nwabali, Goalkeeper (4/5): He kept Sanusi from blushing and exuded confidence throughout. He has made good decisions in all aspects and is gradually cementing his position.

Ola Aina, (3/5): He couldn’t find a defensive area in front of him as the Ivorian was targeting the flanks. The Nottingham Forest defender put in a decent defensive performance.

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Semi Ayjayi, DC (4/5): He defended effectively with his captain – nothing special, but effective.

William Troost-Ekong, DC (5/5): The captain showed a confident performance in building his defensive line. Ekong capped his magnificent performance with a decisive penalty.

Zaidu Sanusi, DF (3/5): He was sloppy at first but improved and played a decent game.

Frank Onyeka, MF (4/5): He covered every blade of grass, made the tackles and played the role of presenter almost perfectly. The Brentford midfielder defended the defense effectively.

Calvin Bassey, MF (4.5/5): He formed the defensive fifth man when the team switched to defense and helped silence Seko Fofana.

Alex Iwobi, midfielder (3/5): He played a more defensive role and performed well as Nigeria mounted a counter-attack. No showing off.

Samuel Chukwueze, FW (3/5): He played a wonder ball to give Osimhen one of the most important chances of the game. However, Chukwueze’s decision-making leaves a lot to be desired and it was a decent performance.

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Ademola Lookman, FW (3.5/5): He wasn’t given the freedom to make a difference on the flanks, but continued to dodge fouls around the pitch and try in attack.

Victor Osimhen, ST (4/5): The emotional striker missed a good opportunity early in the game and won a penalty in his usual combative style. He led the attack with determination and it paid off.

SUBSTITUTES

Moses Simon, FW (3/5): He came on as a substitute late in the game and put the Ivorian defense on guard with a decent showboating performance.

Bright Ossai-Samuel, DF (2/5): He could have added some sparkle to the result, but he was selfish.

Kenneth Omeruo, DC (3/5): Reinforced solid defense as Nigeria conceded all three goals.

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