Nigeria’s Super Eagles made a significant statement in Group A of AFCON 2023 by clinching a 1-0 victory against tournament hosts Cote d’Ivoire.
Captain William Troost-Ekong’s 54th-minute penalty sealed the win, propelling the Eagles back into contention for the top spot.Coach Jose Peseiro strategically adjusted the team’s formation to a 3-4-3, bringing in Calvin Bassey as the third centre-back and introducing Samuel Chukwueze on the right flank for Moses Simon.
The defensive solidity, combined with Victor Osimhen’s early chances, set the tone for Nigeria’s performance.
Peseiro’s tactical move effectively countered the Elephants’ midfield trio of Seko Fofana, Ibrahim Sangare, and Franck Kessie.
Ola Aina and Zaidu Sanusi as wing-backs played a pivotal role in stifling the opposing midfield and facilitating Nigeria’s counterattacks.
The initial half showcased a physical contest, with the Super Eagles dominating the 50-50 battles.
Stanley Nwabali’s crucial save in the eighth minute redeemed Sanusi after a weak back pass. Despite a lapse in defense allowing Evan Ndicka a shot in the 21st minute, it was straight at Nwabali.
Chukwueze’s goal-bound attempt, blocked by Ghislain Konan for a corner kick, highlighted Nigeria’s threat on fast breaks.
Troost-Ekong’s interception leading to Chukwueze’s chance showcased the Eagles’ effective transition from defense to attack.In the 30th minute, Nwabali’s reflexes were tested by Seko Fofana’s long-range shot, while in added time, Chukwueze missed the opportunity to make the right pass.
The Super Eagles’ disciplined performance puts them back in the race for group supremacy, setting the stage for an intriguing journey in the tournament.