Nigeria Beats Cote d’Ivoire To Boost Second Round Chance

Nigeria Beats Cote d’Ivoire To Boost Second Round Chance
Nigeria’s defender #5 William Troost-Ekong (C) celebrates after shooting a penalty and scoring his team’s first goal during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group A football match between Ivory Coast and Nigeria at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan, on January 18, 2024.

The Super Eagles, yesterday, rose from the ashes of their opening day 1-1 draw with minnows, Equatorial Guinea, to register one of their best results in recent time, beating hosts, Cote d’Ivoire, 1-0 in their second game of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations.

Stand-in Captain, William Troost-Ekong scored the goal from the spot in the second half.

Not many followers of the game gave the Nigerians a chance of victory following the tepid way they failed to beat Equatorial Guinea on Sunday and also going by Cote d’Ivoire’s emphatic defeat of Guinea Bissau in their own game. But the Jose Peseiro boys showed the maturity they had lacked in recent times, holding the hosts in a cagey encounter that required more wits than brawn.

Peseiro made two changes to the team that drew with Equatorial Guinea on the opening day, with Calvin Bassey and Samuel Chukwueze coming in for the injured Alhassan Yusuf and Moses Simon.

The Super Eagles had a 3-4-3 formation with Bassey alongside captain William Troost-Ekong and Semi Ajayi in central defence, flanked by Zaidu Sanusi and Ola Aina in the fullback positions.

Alex Iwobi and Frank Onyeka played deep in midfield, while Chukwueze and Ademola Lookman were wide of striker, Victor Osimhen. The formation gave the Eagles more say in the midfield than the hosts and it was no surprise that Nigeria got the first chance, which was unfortunately flashed wide by Onyeka.

With new goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabili, giving the defenders the assurance they needed to do their job without let, the Super Eagles took the game to the Elephants, getting four corner kicks to the Ivoirians’ two in a scorching first half.

What would have been the opening goal was wasted by Osimhen when he was put face to face with the Ivoirian goalkeeper. The first half ended goalless.

The story, however, changed 10 minutes into the second half when an Ivoirian defender fouled Osimhen in the box. After a VAR check, the referee pointed to the spot for Nigeria’s first penalty of the competition and captain Troost-Ekong put it beyond the goalkeeper for the winner.

The win takes Nigeria to four points, same with Equatorial Guinea, who lead Group A on superior goals aggregate. Cote d’Ivoire with three points are third, while pointless Guinea Bissau are bottom of the table.

Nigeria will meet Guinea Bissau in their last group game on Monday, while Equatorial Guinea will play Cote d’Ivoire.

The first two teams from each group qualify for the second round, while the best four third placed teams also make the round.

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