The Africa Cup of Nations, sometimes referred to as the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons, or simply AFCON or CAN, is the main international men’s association football competition in Africa.
The AFCON 2023 tournament is being held in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and kicked off on Saturday 13 January, 2024.
This year, Nigeria made their 19th AFCON appearance, having been crowned champions three times prior; in 2013, 1994, and 1980
Nigeria played Equatorial Guinea at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe to a draw yesterday. The 3 times African Champions were held by a team 46 places below them in the FIFA ranking.
Nigeria conceded first after a momentary switch-off by the defense which gave Iban Salvador the opportunity to put his country ahead with a classy finish. This was his team’s only shot on target in the match and it threatened an upset before Victor Osimhen, the Nigerian star striker put the super eagles back into the game with a fine header.
The super eagles dominated the game but were unable to win because of a lackluster performance in front of goal.
Nigeria had 19 shots with 7 of it on target but scored just one goal. Although that can be attributed to Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper Jesus Owono who made several saves including denying Moses Simon, Sanusi and Aina.
The biggest of them was a save from Victor osimhen who broke clear with a pass from Alex Iwobi. Victor Osimhen had quite a night, he scored the goal to equalize but also missed a glorious chance to seal the game for Nigeria. This sums up the situation of the Nigerian team who were doing a lot of things good in the game but couldn’t capitalize on them.
This begs the question, is Coach Jose Peseiro the answer to Nigeria’s problems?
According to Netizens, A team full of stars and the current holder of the African best player seemed to have underperformed in the game.
Nigeria is 3rd in a group with opponents who are lower in rank aside Ivory Coast who has also been African’s Champion and a strong contender for this edition of the AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS. Nigeria is looking frail in the pursuit for a fourth AFCON title.
A draw to a team 46 places below them in the FIFA ranking is not a good look for coach Jose Peseiro and fans are beginning to wonder if he can turn the situation around and deliver the most coveted title in Africa.
Nigeria take on Ivory coast at the same venue on Thursday, a win against a fellow contender for the title will be a statement win. Nevertheless, fans are looking forward to a better game on Thursday and rooting for the team.
| Ajibola Emmanuel