Home SPORTS GIST AFCON 2021 NIGERIA VS EGYPT: THREE THINGS TO LEARN FROM SUPER EAGLES VICTORY

NIGERIA VS EGYPT: THREE THINGS TO LEARN FROM SUPER EAGLES VICTORY

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Farouq Oduola A.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria turned in a fantastic performance against Egypt’s Pharaohs in the opening game of the 2021 AFCON competition, as the Pharaohs’ 17-year unbeaten record in the group stage was broken by Nigeria.

The lone goal of the game, scored by Iheanacho in the 30th minute, was enough to lift the West African side to the top of Group D in a crucial match if we are to; not only qualify for the knockout stages, but also finish first in the group.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah had little involvement until the start of the second half, and Egypt’s remainder of the squad was not quite as dangerous as ours, who had 15 attempts to Egypt’s 5. Despite the result, there are three major takeaways from the game, as well as areas where we need to improve if we are to advance further in the competition.

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  1. CONSISTENCY IS VITAL IN A GAME 

The Super Eagles put forth a fantastic effort, pressing well and using long ball to take the game to the Pharaohs, however we must not overlook our lack of consistency. The Nigerian attack and midfield linked up beautifully in the first half, with the defense moving with the flow and denying the Egyptians any meaningful chances. Despite having more possession in the first half, Egypt’s possession were all in their own half. The Super Eagles, on the other hand, had more possession in the opponent’s half than they did in their own, which was fantastic. The entire team worked together to put the Pharaohs away while also having significant chances and, most importantly, restricting the supply of passes into Mo Salah’s path.

In the first half, we produced a couple of chances and scored our goal. When the game resumed, the level had dropped a little, we were no longer aggressive in our play, and the bond appeared to be a little shabby. We had a couple more chances in the second half but were unable to convert, but Egypt could easily have equalized as a result of our rather conservative approach. We need to be more consistent in our approach to games in our upcoming games.

  1. AN ATTACK WITH A GOOD MIX

The absence of our best attackers such as Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo, and Paul Onuachu to lead our line, who were stronger possibilities than Taiwo Awoniyi, was one major thing the Super Eagles were missing coming into this game. As the game went, we saw some incredible performance from our attacking players, each of whom posed a unique threat to Egypt’s defence. When we were without the ball, Taiwo Awoniyi, our striker, didn’t get enough chances, but he made up for it with his excellent pressing, charging at the Egyptian defence. Moses Simon was a continuous thorn in the Egyptian defense until he was replaced, using his speed and clever moves on the left side of the attack. Kelechi Iheanacho scored the game’s only goal after one of his good balls in. Chukwueze’s dribbling was coming from the right side, and Iheanacho’s link-up play with the attackers was spectacular. His hold-up game was outstanding as well, as he had to keep the ball until he found a nice pass to a teammate on several occasions. Although there is space for development, there was evidence of a blossoming bond between them.

3.THE NEED FOR COMPOSURE IN FRONT OF GOAL

If there was one thing that could have cost us against the Egyptians, it would have been the chances we didn’t take.  Before the Pharaohs began to make dangerous play in front of our goal, Nigeria could have easily extended their lead in the second half. All of these squandered opportunities were mostly due to a lack of composure. Despite his experience in the top level, Iheanacho struggled with his composure in the second half, wasting a number of chances. Despite an excellent effort after replacing Chukwueze, substitute Ejuke lacked the poise to convert or create chances with the opportunities he had. We were lucky to get away with the lone goal , but if some things are not taken care of, it could come back to haunt us in our next games.

The Super Eagles’ victory over the seven-times winners would boost our confidence heading into the next games and it also shows that we have what it takes to win the 2021 AFCON. 

The Super Eagles’ head coach will undoubtedly have taken note of certain key aspects of the game, but it will be interesting to see if they have improved in these areas in subsequent games.

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