…… The Super Eagles restored their pride on Monday evening after a damaging defeat to Guinea-Bissau in the first leg of their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Jose Peseiro’s team had not won in four successive matches but halted that record with a 1-0 win – the same result that ended the fiasco in Abuja.
Three-time African champions, Nigeria, returned to winning ways as they defeated Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at the Estádio 24 de Setembro courtesy of a goal from the penalty spot from Moses Simon, All Nigeria Soccer reports.
The Eagles had a very poor reverse fixture on Friday at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja as the Djurtus also won by the same result.
The hosts threatened to score in the 6th minute when dangerman, Mama Balde, struck the ball from the edge of the box but the Eagles were let off on that occasion.
The trio of Terem Moffi, Alex Iwobi, and Victor Osimhen had their chances to put the Eagles ahead but none were able to find the target.
Skipper on the day, Kenneth Omeruo saw his header in the first half cleared for a corner kick.
However, the team got the goal they craved when right back Bright Osayi-Samuel was brought down inside the box.
Nantes forward, Moses Simon stepped up and converted the spot kick, sending the keeper the wrong way in the 30th minute.
Guinea-Bissau had the chance to restore parity after a promising combine play but the chance was wasted much to the relief of Jose Peseiro and his team.
Zaidu Sanusi found his way inside the box but Samuel Chukwueze did not react quickest to the ball and it was cleared.
Just before the hour mark, Osimhen was unlucky to see his low shot come off the foot of the post after a promising interplay between Alex Iwobi and Terem Moffi who found the Napoli man
Super Eagles head coach Jose Peseiro made a substitution in the 62nd minute of the second half as he brought off Terem Moffi for Southampton midfielder, Joe Aribo.
There was a moment of panic for the Super Eagles as goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was beaten by a smart ball but luckily the ball rolled out for a goal kick.
The Super Eagles now sit first in group A of the 2023 African Cup of Nations qualifiers with 9 points, two more than Guinea-Bissau, while third-placed Sierra Leone is on five points, and a win against Sierra Leone in June will seal their place at the African Cup of Nations next year.
Rating the players that were on parade on Monday evening:
Francis Uzoho: The Super Eagles’ goalie had nothing much to do the whole game. He almost got himself into trouble in the second half when he hesitated to pass the ball to his nearest teammate and also got a yellow card, a few minutes before the end of the game. 6.5/10
Bright Osayi-Samuel: The Fenerbahce defender picked up where he left it in the first leg in Abuja. He was energetic and it was one of his bursting runs that gave Nigeria the penalty which was converted by Moses Simon. He was also responsible for keeping the dangerous Jorginho quiet. He is the undisputed first choice right back now. 9/10
Semi Ajayi: The West Brom defender was a calming presence in defense and he was always at the right place to sniff out danger. He was also responsible for keeping Mama Balde quiet. 7/10
Kenneth Omeruo: The stand-in Super Eagles captain offered leadership and calmness to the defense, though was caught out of place at times. However, the Leganes defender did enough to justify starting ahead of Calvin Bassey.6.5/10
Zaidu Sanusi: This was a much more improved performance from the Porto left-back. He was solid defensively, though not much came his way, and was excellent offensively with his bursting runs ahead of Simon and his long passing from the back was decent. 7/10
Midfielders and strikers:
Frank Onyeka: The Brentford midfielder came in for Wilfred Ndidi and looked okay justifying his selection ahead of the Leicester City midfielder. He offered more protection to the defense and was hardworking.6/10
Alex Iwobi: Just like he did in the first leg, he was the connector between midfield and attack and did his job well. He can be quicker with his decision-making but he is one of the few that can hold his head high after two legs against Guinea-Bissau. 8/10
Samuel Chukwueze: The Villareal forward was as frustrating as ever with his poor final passes and decision-making. He got better in the second half but didn’t do enough to silence critics.6/10
Moses Simon: This was a more improved performance from the Nantes winger, particularly in the second half when he showed great understanding with Sanusi and substitute, Aribo. He also took his penalty well. 7/10
Terem Moffi: The Nice striker had little or no services throughout his stay on the pitch. He got a good chance in the first half when he had the opportunity to either hit the target or pass to Osimhen but fluffed the opportunity. He got another in the second half but couldn’t sort his feet out, a disappointing performance. 5/10
Victor Osimhen: He came close to scoring when his shot hit the woodwork in the second but was largely disappointing as he was constantly caught offside regularly. He tried too much to impress, this was another disappointing display by his standard. 4.5/10
Joe Aribo: The Southampton midfielder came on at the hour mark for Moffi and didn’t look like a player struggling for game time. He was constantly running into the box to provide more threat to the Djurtus defense and should have gotten himself on the scoresheet. 6.5/10
Wilfred Ndidi: He came on for Samuel Chukwueze in the 80th minute and had nothing much to do as Nigeria sought to protect their lead. 5/10
Ahmed Musa: The most capped Super Eagles player of all time came on for the match-winner, Simon with 120 seconds left to be played. N/A
Six observations from the game:
1. Guinea-Bissau’s defensive plan
The hosts were ultra-defensive, especially in the first half of the game. They sat back and soaked the pressure from the desperate Eagles.
2. Nigeria’s missed scoring chances
The Super Eagles attacking players; Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi, Samuel Chukwueze, and even the duo of Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo all had chances to score but either wasted their efforts or were simply stopped by the resolute defensive solidity of the hosts.
3. Tired Wild dogs
Halfway into the second half, the Guinea-Bissau players especially the defenders dropped their guards and invited pressure after it had seemed they were going for a possible equalizer.
A good spell by the Nigerians saw Victor Osimhen hit the post with a low shot while Joe Aribo saw his shot palmed away by the goalkeeper for a corner kick.
4. Omeruo joining the attack
Stand-in skipper Kenneth Omeruo joined the attacking players in search of a goal or more.
Early in the match, he had a header which might have been a goal but the ball was deflected for a corner kick.
5. Victor Osimhen was flagged offside several times in the first half.
That spoke to the fact that he was isolated in some moments of the game.
When he did get on his track and threatened to score, he was stopped by a defense that had little or no fear of his current club form.
6. Fans Invasion
The home supporters invaded the pitch of the Estádio 24 de Setembro, Bissau after the final whistle went up.
That forced the Super Eagles players to hurriedly leave the field for the dressing room.
One takeaway from that situation is the fact that teams that hitherto feared the Nigerian national team in the 80s and 90s do not have such fears anymore.
The fans probably believed that their side deserved to be winners or good enough to pick up a draw at least.