Nigeria’s quest to claim a fourth Africa Cup of Nations title continued in spectacular fashion as the Super Eagles eased their way to the round of 16 of the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a 1-0 victory over the Syli Nationale of Guinea in their second group B encounter.
A 73rd minute headed goal by Kenneth Omeruo, off a Moses Simon’s corner kick ensured Nigeria’s qualification was sealed before their final Group B fixture of the against the Barea of Madagascar.
— The Precious One (@damiancaring) June 26, 2019
Guinea who were making their 12th AFCON appearance in Egypt having made their debut appearance in 1970, needed to boost their hopes of ending the trophy drought on the continent by progressing out of Group B first after their 2-2 draw in their first game against Madagascar.
Nigeria, having never lost their last 12 second AFCON group games, went into the game hoping another three points would send the side into the very first last 16 of a 24-team AFCON tournament.
— Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) June 26, 2019
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr, released his starting side leaving out John Mikel Obi, Samuel Chukwueze, William Troost-Ekong, Abdullahi Shehu (who got injured in the last game against Burundi) and Paul Onuachu as he made five changes were made to the team. He instead started Ahmed Musa, Moses Simon, Leon Balogun, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo as the Super Eagles went into the game with high expectations.
Moses Simon was lively in the opening exchanges as the Super Eagles started the game dominating Guinea. The Levante man after receiving the ball, squared it into inside the box for Alex Iwobi but the Arsenal star hesitated rather too long as the Guineans cleared it.
Next to miss a chance for Nigeria was Odion Ighalo. Ahmed Musa sped down the left and cutback for Ighalo but his first touch got the ball to the goalkeeper instead. The Guineans got an opportunity as Iwobi gave the ball away for the second time in seconds, but Sory Kaba rather hurriedly took his shot. An easy catch for Daniel Akpeyi who was in-goal.
Once again, Iwobi was robbed of possession, but Leon Balogun spared Nigeria’s blushes by tracking Kaba and then clearing. Moments later, Kamano had a long range effort at Nigeria’s goal, Akpeyi saved it, but it was rather in an unconvincing manner.
The Super Eagles’ first real effort on target came in the 24th minute from the boot of Ola Aina as his long range effort gave Ibrahim Kone in goal, something to be worried about.
Nigeria had a big chance as Ighalo was put through by Moses Simon, the striker sped his way into the box and elected to shoot from an acute angle whereas Ahmed Musa, who seemed better positioned might have given Rohr’s side the much need goal with a simple tap-in, had the later opted to pass. Ighalo’s attempt however, headed into the side net.
A better from attempt at goal from Nigeria was recorded eight minutes after the half hour as Alex Iwobi shot from range, Ibrahim Kone saved but for a Nigerian corner.
Guinea’s Liverpool star Naby Keita, who struggled with fitness preceding the game, seemed to become an injury scare for coach Paul Put as the Syli Nationale with into the break level pegging with Nigeria.
Ten minutes into the second half, it was all Nigeria again. Musa beat two Guineans on a solo counterattack but his final pass, aimed for Ighalo got intercepted for Nigeria’s 12th corner. Iwobi got to the end of the kick, tried a curling effort at goal but Ibrahim Kone pulled off a brilliant save to tip the attempt away.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) June 26, 2019
Just 17 minutes shy of the final whistle, Kenneth Omeruo headed home Nigeria’s 15th corner kick of the game crossed into the box by Moses Simon’s to give the Super Eagles the lead. That would be the last important event in the game.
The Super Eagles having already sealed their spot, now head into their last game against Madagascar on Sunday for formality sake while Guinea would hope to earn a spot too when they play debutants, Burundi.
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