Nigeria’s Super Eagles will face the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinals match between Cape Verde and South Africa in one of Wednesday’s semifinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.
The semifinals feat means it will be the 15th time the Eagles will reach that stage of the AFCON in 19 appearances.
Jose Peseiro’s team pipped Angola 1-0 at the Houphouët-Boigny stadium, Abidjan thanks to an Ademola Lookman strike to become the first side to book their place in the ‘last four’ of the tournament.
Prime Business Africa’s Izuchukwu Okosi presents the Super Eagles players’ ratings.
The Chippa United goalkeeper made an instinctive save in the 4th minute of the game but was largely untested for the rest of the game barring the effort by Zini that came off the underside of the post in the second half.
His confidence and strong character even in the midst of the superstar European players makes him an important part of the group. 6.5/10.
The Nottingham Forest right back did not start the game in the most encouraging fashion as he was ponderous with the ball and had a bit of showboat which was really unnecessary.
However as the game went on his impact was felt down the flanks as he defended impressively against the trickery forward, Gelson Dala, and helped the attacking moves from the right side. 6/10.
The Porto left back did not certainly have one of his best games in the green and white jersey as he made some comical errors and failed to make a decisive pass that could have led to the creation of a goal in the first half just before the referee blew his whistle for the halftime break.
Blasted a shot wide from close range in the second half. 5/10.
The central defender gave away the ball rather uncomfortably in the first half but grew into the game and showed glimpses of the form we all saw against Cameroon. 6/10.
William Troost Ekong
The on-field captain was splendid on the evening and took no prisoner with his solid defensive approach and leadership.
Made a telling clearance after Zini hit the underside of the post. 8/10.
The defender cum midfielder tucked in the defensive midfield alongside Brentford’s Frank Onyeka and was dominant in the manner he dealt with the threat of the tinted-haired Gilberto.
Big, strong and reliable. He was however booked (yellow) for overreacting when he was provoked by an Angolan player. Must watch his temperament. 7/10.
The ‘tank’ was hugely impressive in midfield and has continued to prove that he could be an integral part of the setup even when the injured Wilfred Ndidi makes his return to the team.
Made vital blocks but stretchered off in the second half for a suspected shoulder injury. Hopefully he is fit to play on Wednesday. 7/10.
Lost the ball a couple of times bit generally he had a great game.
Unfairly criticised by a section of Nigerian fans, Iwobi who made ‘the pass before the assist’ delivered by Bassey which Lookman scored from against Cameroon in the round of 16, made a cross-field pass to Zaidu which culminated in the goal scored by Lookman on Friday. 6.5/10.
The Atalanta forward has now scored three goals in the tournament, proving to be one of the best players of the AFCON in Ivory Coast.
He finished off the mazy run and fantastic pass from Moses Simon with aplomb.
Lookman was also useful in the defensive phase of the team’s game, getting back to help the midfield in screening the back four. 8/10.
The Man of the Match. Simon assisted Lookman’s goal after that blistering pace and then the superb cutback to Lookman.
Simon is good asset going forward as well as defending against the opposition.
Sometimes though, his final balls could leave much to be desired. 9/10.
The star striker and current African Footballer of The Year was a menace in the aerial duels. He was also helpful clearing the ball from danger when the Angolans get their setpieces.
Osimhen scored a ‘goal’ in the second half but unfortunately the VAR review proved correctly that he was offside in the buildup. 8.5/10.
Alhassan Yusuf: The only sub we are rating as he came on to replace Alex Iwobi fairly earlier than the others. Found Lookman with a good pass and the latter creating a chance for Osimhen.
The vision behind the pass earns him a decent rating meaning he could have earned more if he played more minutes. Impressive cameo. 4.5/10.
Paul Onuachu, Kenneth Omeruo, Joe Aribo
The trio were introduced late in the game. Not Rated.
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.