Umar, Ekong On Target As Nigeria Claims Top Spot

By Chidi Nwoke, Abuja

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria claimed a 2-0 victory against Guinea-Bissau courtesy of goals from Sadiq Umar and William Troost-Ekong, claiming top spot in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua, Cameroon.

Nigeria have qualified to the next round with a perfect record without conceding a goal in the tournament so far. Eguavoen’s men would be looking to take their fine form into the next round.

Nigeria had already won the group before kick-off, and became the only team to progress into the last 16 with three group-stage wins. Egypt finished second in Group D with six points, while Guinea-Bissau and Sudan were knocked out with one point each.

MATCH PREVIEW

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be looking to make it three wins out of three when they take on Guinea-Bissau in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Garoua, Cameroon.

Nigeria progressed to the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations after a 3-1 victory against Sudan in Group D. The Super Eagles also defeated Egypt in the first encounter, securing top spot in Group D and will face Guinea-Bissau in the final group match on Wednesday.

Guinea-Bissau will be looking to upset the three-time African champions with a victory that may secure its passage to the next round, given the result of the other group match between Egypt and Sudan. A victory may also see Guinea-Bissau progress as one of the best third-placed teams in the groups.

Super Eagles’ line up against Guinea-Bissau

Although Nigeria came to the tournament with many absentees and technical changes, the Super Eagles established themselves as one of the favourites with an outstanding performance in its first two matches.

A convincing victory against Egypt, followed by another against Sudan, ensured the Super Eagles qualified top of the group, regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s match.

Super Eagles Interim Coach, Augustin Eguavoen, said Nigeria won’t take its foot off the pedal, while Assistant Captain, William Troost-Ekong, promised Nigerians that the team will make the country proud.

Nigeria tops Group D with six points from two games going into the last round of matches, while Egypt are in second place with three points from two games. Guinea-Bissau are in third place with a point from two games, while Sudan are fourth with a point from two games.

Eguavoen said some of the players, who have not played any part in the competition so far will get the chance to show what they can do.

Players like Daniel Akpeyi, Peter Olayinka, Henry Onyekuru, Francis Uzoho, John Noble, Tyronne Ebuehi, Frank Onyeka, Jamilu Collins and Olisa Ndah are yet to feature in the tournament.

Guinea-Bissau 

Guinea-Bissau are yet to score in this year’s Africa Cup of Nations despite attempting 16 shots in their two matches so far. Overall, they have failed to score in their last six Africa Cup of Nations matches; no nation has ever gone seven straight games without a goal in the competition’s history.

Guinea-Bissau has not won in the eight matches it has played in the Africa Cup of Nations so far. But a win in Garoua on Wednesday will be invaluable as it could mean Djurtus’ qualification for the next round, if the results go in their favour.

Guinea-Bissau suffered two blows in the last minutes of their group matches. They missed a penalty against Sudan to settle for a goalless draw, then they thought that they scored the equaliser against Egypt, to which Mohamed Salah scored, but the video assistant referee (VAR) intervened to cancel the goal.

Players and officials of Guinea-Bissau have promised to end Nigeria’s unbeaten run when they clash today in their last group match in Garoua.

Guinea-Bissau coach Baciro Cande (L)

“The match will be difficult, but it is important to get three points if we are to continue competing,” Guinea-Bissau coach Baciro Cande said.

We know Nigeria are a strong team, but we are well prepared, and we will play to win. We have to believe in our ability and fight for what we believe in because this is football.”

HEAD TO HEAD

This will be the first encounter between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Guinea-Bissau remain winless in their eight matches in the Africa Cup of Nations (D3 L5); only Benin (14), Mozambique (12) and Namibia (9) have played more games in the tournament without picking up a win.

Nigeria have won 11 of their last 13 Africa Cup of Nations matches (L2), including both in this year’s tournament so far. They last won each of their opening three matches of an edition back in 2006.

KICK OFF!!

3′ Sadiq Umar is down on the ground after a challenge from the Guniea-Bissau defender. Corner to Nigeria.

7′ Nwakali tries a long ball over the top towards Iwobi, but not enough on it and it’s headed away. Nigeria look comfortable in possession, knocking it around in defence without too much pressure being put on them. Ejuke brings down a long ball brilliantly, but he can’t beat his man.

Supporters cheering the Super Eagles on during AFCON match between Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau

11′ Guinea-Bissau nearly score. Balde pokes it past Ajayi and briefly looks to be clean through. However, Uzoho comes off his line to clear the danger. It’s a painful collision between Uzoho and Balde.

13′ Collins has space on the left, and whips in a deep cross into the box. Iwobi tries to follow it in at the back post, but it bounces in front of him and he can’t bring it under control. Iheanacho then tries to bundle his way through the Guinea-Bissau defence, goes down but there’s no foul there.

17′ Guinea-Bissau bring it forward with Jorginho, but Ndidi follows him up and quickly wins it back. Iwobi plays a long ball across the pitch, Ejuke can’t quite get on the end of it.

19′ Ejuke picks the ball on the left and drives inside. Space opens up for him and he has a shot from range blocked by Cassama. The Guinea-Bissau midfielder stays down, he’s hurt himself getting in the way of the shot.

 24′ WHAT A CHANCE!! Sadiq has to score for Nigeria but he’s made a complete mess of it. Clean through on goal inside the box, rounds the goalkeeper but then gets the ball stuck under his feet. Tries to turn back, but the defenders are there to clear. Biggest moment of the match so far.

28′ 68% possession for Nigeria and three shots so far. Guinea-Bissau yet to have an attempt.

31′ Brilliant from Ejuke, turns past Encada superbly and he’s away. Guinea-Bissau desperately try and scramble back, and they get it behind for corner. Deep ball, Iheanacho volleys it at goal but it’s a comfortable enough save for Gomis. Straight at the goalkeeper.

33′ Balde gets played to him on the edge of the Nigeria box, he cushions a pass through to a teammate making the run but Ajayi gets across well.

37′ Gomis comes out for no reason in goal for Guinea-Bissau and gets away with it. Ball played through to Sadiq, he’s running onto it but Sangante has the pace to get back and clear. 

39′ More good work from Balde as he receives the ball on the halfway line. Holds it up, turns and is then fouled as he tried to bring it forward. Sangante is down now, after a challenge from Sadiq. Another free-kick for Guinea-Bissau and the referee warns the Nigerian

42′ Corner!! Guinea-Bissau gets a corner, its their first of the match. Cande will take it. Looped to the back post where it’s volleyed away by the Nigeria defence.

44′ Ejuke has to do some defensive work as Encada brings it forward. The Nigerian slides in and concedes a corner. Better ball from Cande, headed out to the edge of the box. Jorginho is completely free and he volleys it back at goal… off his shin and it spins well wide.

45+1′ The referee blows the whistle for halftime.

It has been an entertaining game so far with chances coming from both sides.

HALFTIME

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