Nigeria’s national football team, the Super Eagles, were unable to secure a victory against Equatorial Guinea in their opening match of the current African Cup of Nations (AFCON) held in Ivory Coast.

Victor Osimhen’s header in the first half played a crucial role in the team’s effort to secure a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé, Abidjan, on Sunday.

Stanley Nwabali started in goal for his competitive debut for the Super Eagles. William Troost-Ekong also made his first competitive start for the team since 2022 alongside Semi Ajayi, with Zaidu Sanusi and Ola Aina on both flanks of the defence.

Alhassan Yusuf, another debutant, lined up alongside Frank Onyeka in a double pivot behind Alex Iwobi. The attacking trio of Victor Osimhen, Lookman Ademola and Moses Simon completed Nigeria’s lineup.

The Eagles entered the competition in an unimpressive form, with one win in the last five games. But the team showed an appetite to shed the inconsistency in the match’s opening minutes.

Almost immediately after kick-off, Iwobi tested the alertness of Jesús Owono, the Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper, with a half-volley, but the strike was halted by the shot-stopper.

Shortly, Osimhen skied the ball from the edge of the box after a mistake from Owono. Another chance fell to Sanusi afterwards, but the Porto defender sent the ball high from the near post off a drilling cross from Yusuf.

However, the Equatoguinean stunned Nigeria and took the lead in the 36th minute. A clearance mix-up between Iwobi and Onyeka presented José Machín with the space to find Iván Salvador, who stroked the ball beyond a stilled Nwabali into the net.

But the Eagles replied instantaneously. Osimhen arrived at the far post at the right time and nodded home a floating cross from Lookman.

Nigeria almost took the lead late in the first half, but Simon’s low shot was punched against the woodwork by Owono.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper resumed his heroics in the second half, stopping Sanusi after an exciting counterattack. He then stopped Osimhen a few minutes later.

The Super Eagles were made to rue their numerous missed chances as the National Thunder of Equatorial Guinea dug in for a vital draw.

Nigeria will face Ivory Coast in the second group game on Thursday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *