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#AFCON2023: Equatorial Guinea holds wasteful Eagles to 1-1 draw

The Super Eagles were expected to have a clear run to the second round from Group A of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, having been pooled alongside hosts, Cote d’Ivoire and minnows, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau.

But the Nigerian side showed yesterday that making it out of the group would require harder endeavour than anticipated by their wasteful game against Nzalang Nationale.

With African footballer of the year, Victor Osimhen, leading Nigeria’s attack against an Equatoguinean side, whose best star, Emilio Nsue, plays in the Spanish third division, fans at the Allassane Quatara Stadium, Abidjan, were stunned when Iban Salvador gave the tiny Central African country the lead in the 36th minute of the game completely dominated by Nigeria.

Victor Osimhen levelled matters three minute later before embarking on a wasteful display that saw him missing open chances in the first half.

The Super Eagles inability to take their chances made a star out of Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper, Jesus Owono, who plays for Alaves in the Spanish La Liga.

Osimhen spurned what would have saved the day with 15 minutes to play when he once again came face to face with Owono only to drag his shot wide off the near post.

Yesterday’s draw called to question, once again, the wisdom of taking the Super Eagles for a pre-championship training in the Gulf region when the competition is holding in West Africa with a different weather.

Most of the players were already fagged out midway into the game yesterday, with Alex Iwobi, Ola Aina, Moses Simon, and Frank Onyeka barely able to keep up with the tempo of the game.

With the bright star in the Super Eagles, midfield, Alhassan Yusuf, injured, stretchered out and likely to miss the crucial game against Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday, Coach Jose Peseiro must do a better job on the staying power and marksmanship of the players to have a chance of keeping their hope of qualifying for the second round alive.

Cote d’Ivoire have three points, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea have a point apiece, while Guinea Bissau have no point.

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