The Super Eagles of Nigeria are through to the knockout phase of the ongoing African Cup of Nations in The Ivory Coast after securing a 1-0 win over Guinea Bissau on Monday night at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan.
The goal came in the 37th minute of the tight affair after Opa Sagante diverted Moses Simon’s cross into his own net.
Ola Aina thought he had doubled Nigeria’s lead in the 82nd minute, but his effort was ruled out for offside after consultation with VAR by the referee.
The victory could not take the 3-time continental champions to the summit of Group A as minnows Equatorial Guinea firmly held on to the top spot by whipping hosts Ivory Coast 4-0 at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium.
Two goals from skipper Emilio Nsue and one each from Pablo Ganet and Jannick Buyla condemned The Elephants to a second successive defeat and leaves them battling for survival, with qualification no longer in their hands with their 3 points from 3 matches.
On four nations have exited the Africa’s showpiece football event at the group stage as hosts. Ethiopia in 1976, Cote d’Ivoire in 1976, Tunisia in 1994 and Gabon in 2017. Could the Ivorians fall victims twice?
Both Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria are on 7 points each, but superior goal difference (+6 and +2 respectively) meant the Central Africans scale through as Group A winners.
Therefore, based on the road map laid down by CAF for the rest of the tournament, Nigeria is most likely to face either Guinea or familiar foes Cameroon in the Round of 16.
This is so because, the Runner up in Group A have been scheduled to square off against the Runner up in Group C.
As it stands, the ferocious Teranga Lions of Senegal lead the way in Group C with maximum points from their first 2 games and the defending champions are primed to maintain status quo heading into their final group game against Guinea on Tuesday.
The Syli National themselves need to avoid defeat to keep their qualification dreams in their own hands having gannered 4 points from their opening two matches. But should they fumble against a ruthless Senegalese side and the wounded Indomitable Lions of Cameroon (currently 3rd with a point) were to pounce on a helpless Gambian side who sit bottom of Group C and make mince meat of The Scorpions, then surely, a clash with the Super Eagles should be on the cards in a matter of days.
So, which team would you have the Super Eagles come up against in the next round?
The Syli National of Guinea or a rekindled rivalry with The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon?
Let’s have your thoughts in the
comment section below.