Nigeria’s players huddle prior to the Group D Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2021 football match between Guinea-Bissau and Nigeria at Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua on January 19, 2022. (Photo by Daniel BELOUMOU OLOMO / AFP)
The Super Eagles will head into the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations full of confidence after a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau kept their perfect run going.
Umar Sadiq’s second-half strike put Nigeria in front, before captain William Troost-Ekong doubled the lead after a long VAR review.
The win means the Super Eagles are the only team to secure maximum points from the group stage.
They will face one of the best third-placed teams in the last 16 on Sunday, as their search for a fourth AFCON title continues.
Nigeria made eight changes to their starting lineup, with their spot in the knockout stages already secured. The England-based trio of Troost-Ekong, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho were the only players to keep their place.
The Super Eagles dominated possession from the start as expected, but clear-cut chances were at a premium for much of the half.
Nigeria’s best chance fell to Sadiq when he found himself clean through in the box. He went round the goalkeeper, but got the ball stuck under his feet and the Guinea-Bissau defence got back to clear.
Iheanacho had a volley from a corner comfortably saved, while Guinea-Bissau’s only shot of a goalless first-half came when Jorginho scuffed an effort wide when the ball fell to him completely free on the edge of the box.
Nigeria took the lead 10 minutes into the second-half. Iheanacho was played into space in the box, he curled a perfect pass with the outside of his left foot to the back post where Sadiq had the easy job of tapping in.
Guinea-Bissau looked for an immediate response, and Francis Uzoho, starting in goal ahead of first-choice goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, had to be alert to tip behind Jorginho’s well-struck free-kick.
Moses Simon came off the bench and immediately produced a sensational run, beating three Bissau-Guinean defenders before firing a left-footed shot straight against the bar. Man-of-the-Match Troost-Ekong was on-hand though to pounce on the rebound as the ball bounced to him a couple of yards out. Although initially denied by the offside flag, a lengthy VAR check that dragged on for several minutes, earned the Watford defender his third international goal in what was his 56th appearance for the Super Eagles.
Simon went close to getting on the scoresheet himself after another mazy run as Guinea-Bissau had no answer to his pace, but the angle proved too tight before he fired another effort into the side-netting in stoppage time.
In the end, it was another comfortable night for the Super Eagles as they breezed through Group D, and they’re a side that will very much be feared in the knockout stages.