The Super Eagles of Nigeria secured their spot in the knockout stages of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations with a victory over the National Elephants of Guniea on Wednesday.
Kenneth Omeruo found the breakthrough for Nigeria in the 73rd minute converting a corner kick with a sublime header to hand the Super Eagles their second win at the tournament. This would be the first time since 2006 that Nigeria won their first two games at the AFCON finals. The Super Eagles put themselves in a comfortable position ahead of today’s game by defeating the Swallows of Burundi by the same scoreline on Saturday.
Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr made five changes to the team that started in the 1-0 victory against Burundi last Saturday at the Alexandria Stadium. The team captain, Mikel Obi was dropped to the bench alongside William Troost-Ekong and Samuel Chukwueze. Ahmed Musa, Leon Balogun, and Moses Simon came into the side. Here are the player ratings for the Super Eagles of Nigeria following their victory over Guinea.
Daniel Akpeyi (GK): 8.0
Daniel Akpeyi was criticised for his performance against Burundi as he was shaky on the ball. However, Gernot Rohr showed faith in the goalkeeper starting him for a second consecutive game at the ongoing tournament. The goalkeeper was tested from long range several times and he was superb to get behind the shots making the saves look easy. He has kept a second consecutive clean sheet at the tournament helping Nigeria reach the knockout stages.
Chidozie Awaziem: 7.0
The right full back picked up where he left off after he came on for Shehu Abdullahi in the win against Burundi. He made key blocks and interceptions from the beginning of the game and helped the Nigerians keep a second consecutive clean sheet at the ongoing tournament.
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Kenneth Omeruo: 10.0
Omeruo earned the Man of the Match award following a commanding display for the Super Eagles. The 2013 AFCON winner continued his fine form at center-back and he brought calm to a Nigerian defence that looked a bit on edge in the opener against Burundi. The Leganes defender made key blocks and interceptions in both halves to help the Super Eagles to a clean sheet.
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Omeruo also got forward for set-pieces and skilfully dribbled a Guinean defender in the box to create a goal scoring opportunity in the second half. He opened the goalscoring in the seventy-third minute converting a corner from Moses Simon into the net with a sublime header. His performances helped Nigeria keep another clean sheet in the tournament as well as securing a spot in the next round. He is the man of the match for today’s game.
Leon Balogun: 8.0
The Brighton and Hove Albion defender did not see a lot of action during the course of the season but he looked settled and calm at the heart of the Nigerian defence. Early in the first half, he blocked shots from the Guinean attackers and made key interceptions to help the Super Eagles keep a clean sheet. He won aerial duels in the box, winning key headers to make the crosses of the National Elephants redundant.
Ola Aina: 7.5
Aina played his role as a left-full back effectively combining brilliantly with Ahmed Musa and overlapped constantly to provide width for the Super Eagles in attack. He was also solid in defence preventing the Guinean attackers from getting in dangerous positions. The former Chelsea star made key interceptions and blocks to ensure that attempted crosses did not get into the Nigerian box.
Wilfred Ndidi: 9.0
The defensive midfielder covererd every blade of grass on the pitch and put in a man of the match performance for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The Leicester City man won aerial duels and tackles in the middle of the park and properly recycled the ball to help Nigeria transition from defence into attack. His impressive runs from deep also helped the 2013 AFCON Champions create chances in the final third.
Oghenekaro Etebo: 8.0
Etebo was impressive in the middle of the park dictating the pace of the game from deep and making timely runs to help in attack. The Stoke City midfielder made tackles to break down attacking plays of the National Elephants of Guniea. He also ensured that Guinea’s creative outlet, Naby Keita was kept out of the game and the Liverpool man was eventually substituted.
Alex Iwobi: 7.0
The Arsenal playmaker had a slow start to the game despite being the key man in the midfield of the Super Eagles. He was indecisive in the first half but began to look dangerous before the end of the opening forty-five minutes. The Arsenal man started the second half with more fire and tested the opposition goalkeeper with a ferocious shot that needed a great save.
Moses Simon: 8.5
Simon came in for Samuel Chukwueze and drilled in dangerous low crosses into the box contstantly worrying the Guinean defence. He created chances in the final third, especially from the wings. His impressive performance was rewarded when his corner kick was converted by Kenneth Omeruo to hand the Levante man an assist.
Ahmed Musa: 8.0
The pacy winger was a thorn in the flesh of the Guinean defenders who could not handle his speed and skill on the left wing. The Nigerian skipper made an impressive run in the second half which lifted the mood of all the fans at the stadium. Although his final pass intended for Ighalo was intercepted and turned behind for a corner, the run reminded Nigerians of what Musa is capable of.
Odion Ighalo: 7.5
Ighalo troubled the Guinean centerbacks and constantly used his strenght to hold the ball and link-up play. He won a lot of fouls for the Super Eagles causing the two center backs to pick up yellow cards before the end of the game. He could have assisted a goal in the first half after he ran through on goal alongside Ahmed Musa but he attempted a shot that was off-target.
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Samuel Chukwueze: N/A
The talented winger came on late in the second half and did not have enough time to impact the game in any major way.
Paul Onuachu: N/A
The lanky striker came on for Odion Ighalo in the dying minutes of the game but did not have enough time to impact the game.