The Super Eagles reached the semifinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire with a 1-0 win over Angola at the Houphouët-Boigny stadium, in Abidjan on Friday evening.
As Nigerians continue to bask in the euphoria of the semifinal berth, Prime Business Africa here presents the five takeaways from the game.
1. Super Eagles Are Team Of 90 Minutes
The three-time African champions have continued to grind out the results despite the inability to score lots of goals.
The Super Eagles attack led by Victor Osimhen only scored twice in the 2-0 win against Cameroon thanks to a brace hy Ademola Lookman as they have only been able to score once in 90 minutes.
Perhaps the objective now would be to score twice in the first half against either South Africa or Cape Verde because it could be counterproductive if the games head to extra time.
Osimhen was apparently knackered towards the end of the game against Angola and when he came off for Paul Onuachu, his body language suggested that he was very close to a complete breakdown and could not carry on.
It will be too much a risk to let such (slim) leads spiral into extra times, and possibly penalty kicks in the searing Ivory Coast heat.
2. Untested, Cautious Nwabali
There is understandable relief among Nigerian football fans following the emergence of Chippa United goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali in the Super Eagles setup.
The confidence that the 27-year-old goalie oozes has emboldened the defenders in front of him.
Nwabali’s distribution is quite okay but there is a part of his game that gives so much concern. His reaction to aerial balls – which he must work on.
Nwabali has not been quick enough to pluck the ball in the air.
Against Angola, he punched away the ball in the second half in one of the attacking moves made by the Pelancras Negras. It took him a few seconds to get up from the ground in anticipation of a rebound from the Angolans.
3. Osimhen’s Goal Drought
SS Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has scored only one goal so far in the tournament after his effort against Angola was ruled out correctly by VAR for being in an offside position.
The fact that the goals have been spread among the other players is a pretty good sign but he deserves to be scoring.
Although his being in the team of the tournament will not be disputed, being on the scoresheet adds another layer to his pedigree which could add up when the next African Footballer of The Year award comes up.
4. Iwobi criticism
Fulham forward Alex Iwobi is unarguably one of the most creative players in the team.
The former Arsenal and Everton star needs to add goals and power behind his shots from outside the opposition box.
However, some of the criticisms towards him are too harsh.
Although he was at fault for giving away the ball that nearly culminated in an Angolan goal on Friday, he was also part of the buildups to some of the goals scored by the team.
Iwobi gave the pass before the assist against Cameroon and his crossfield pass culminated in the goal scored by Lookman on Friday against Angola.
5. Peseiro’s Substitutions
The Super Eagles’ head coach Jose Peseiro has not fielded the trio of Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho and Terem Moffi in the tournament.
Musa copped an injury in training on Monday which ruled him out against Angola but Iheanacho and Moffi’s decision is one that had continued to befuddle Nigerians.
Peseiro had also not effected his changes earlier than expected and when the team faces either Cape Verde or South Africa, it might ne ingenious to deploy a slightly different formation and firepower as Osimhen, Simon and Lookman will be closely watched by the opposition defence.
Izuchukwu Okosi is a Nigerian sports and entertainment journalist with two decades of experience in the media industry having begun his media journey in 2002 as an intern at Mundial Sports International (MSI) and Africa Independent Television (AIT), owners of Daar Communications Plc.
In October 2004, Okosi joined Complete Communications Limited, publishers of Complete Sports newspaper and Complete Football magazine as a reporter and later script writer for the Complete Sports studio.
He worked there for 13 years until October 2017.
Okosi also worked various times as Correspondent, Content creator and Editor at Sports Market International Magazine, Opera News, All Nigeria Soccer Media and Iconic Media Watch.
He also undertook freelance writing gigs for some local and international organizations.
Okosi is a member of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN), Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Association of Voiceover Artistes of Nigeria (AVOA), Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
He has been part of cast in some Nollywood movies and radio dramas including Blood Money 2, Scores To Settle, Dead End 2, Another Campus Tale and Battle Line.
Aside mainstream media and the entertainment industry, he has interests in scouting/unearthing of talents in the sports and creative sectors, exports business and property development.