The Super Eagles of Nigeria have clinched their spot in the Round of 16 at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after a hard-fought victory against Guinea-Bissau on Monday, January 22, 2024.
The lone goal, an own goal by Guinea-Bissau’s Opa Sangate in the 36th minute, secured the win for Nigeria in their final Group A match of the tournament.
Despite the triumph, concerns linger over Nigeria’s goal-scoring prowess. The team displayed wastefulness in front of the net, failing to convert several chances throughout the match. A notable moment saw Moses Simon’s delivery from the left flank resulting in the own goal, highlighting the absence of a creative spark and the team’s struggle to find the back of the net.
In their group stage journey, the Super Eagles had to rally to a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea in their opener and secured a narrow 1-0 victory against tournament host Cote d’Ivoire with a penalty from captain Troost Ekong. The trend continued in their match against Guinea-Bissau, where star striker Victor Osimhen had opportunities he couldn’t capitalize on, and the team collectively failed to register a shot on target.
Coach Jose Peseiro faces a pressing challenge to address Nigeria’s goal-scoring ability as they advance to the knockout stage. With only two goals scored in the group stage, the Super Eagles must sharpen their attacking edge to compete against tougher opposition in the knockout phases.
While the team showcased defensive solidity, keeping two clean sheets in the group stage, relying solely on defense won’t secure the title. The knockout stages will pose more significant challenges, and against formidable opponents like defending champions Senegal and Morocco, not converting chances could prove costly.
As Nigeria prepares for the Round of 16 clash against the runners-up from Group C, the emphasis must shift to unlocking their attacking potential. The Super Eagles have the defensive foundation; now, they need to find the back of the net consistently to mount a serious challenge for the Africa Cup of Nations title.