Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Nigeria’s highly anticipated Africa Cup of Nations 2023 campaign kicked off with an unexpected setback as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Equatorial Guinea in their Group A opener.

Despite being considered favorites for the AFCON title in 2024, the Super Eagles struggled to secure a victory against a team positioned 46 places below them in FIFA’s rankings.

The match, held at Abidjan’s Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe, witnessed a lackluster performance from the Super Eagles. The sweltering heat and a dearth of incisive attacking play contributed to their disappointment. Star striker Victor Osimhen’s lone goal salvaged the draw, but his missed opportunities, coupled with the team’s recent record of just one win in their last six games, raises concerns about their form.

Equatorial Guinea, in their fourth AFCON finals appearance, shocked Nigeria by taking the lead with Ivan Salvador’s composed finish after 36 minutes. Despite Osimhen swiftly responding with a goal two minutes later, Nigeria failed to capitalize on the momentum. The persistent efforts of Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper, Jesus Owono, thwarted the Super Eagles, leaving them with a challenging task ahead.

As Nigeria looks ahead in the tournament, the need for sharper attacking prowess, particularly from Osimhen, becomes evident. The Napoli star’s crucial miss in the second half, coupled with an upcoming fixture against hosts Ivory Coast, emphasizes the urgency for improvement if Nigeria aims to make a significant impact in the AFCON 2023 finals.

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