Nigeria reclaims top spot with win over Guinea-Bissau

Lekan Sowande, Abuja

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Nigeria moved back to the top of their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying pool after Moses Simon’s 30th minute penalty condemned hosts Guinea Bissau to a one-goal defeat on Monday.

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The Eagles, just as it happened in the first leg in Abuja, created opportunity after good opportunity but failed to get behind goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.

Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze could not convert chances in the first half, before Moses Simon made good from six yards to put Nigeria in front for the first time in the fixture.

The Djurtus looked dangerous as they did in the first leg in Abuja but failed to unscramble the new Kenneth Omeruo/Semi Ajayi equation in the centre of Nigeria’s defence, even as Bright Osayi-Samuel again showed plenty of evidence that he has come to stay at the Super Eagles’ right back.

Osimhen was denied by the upright in the 59th minute when he flashed a shot past Mendes, and four minutes later, the Napoli man simply blew it skywards after being put through by Samuel Chukwueze.

In the 69th minute, Osimhen was again foiled by the alertness and diligence of Mendes after Simon sliced one from the left flank. Two minutes later, substitute Joe Aribo was also cracking his knuckles after Mendes got a strong hand to push over his fierce shot from just outside the box.

Victory meant the Eagles returned to the top with nine points, with Guinea Bissau second on seven and Sierra Leone, who spanked Sao Tome and Principe on Wednesday, third on five points.

The next round of the qualifiers will be in June, when Nigeria travel away to Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau take on bottom-placed Sao Tome and Principe.

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