How Super Eagles Overpowered Elephant Of Cote D’Ivoire In AFCON 2023 Group A Decider
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By Agency Report
Prior to this match which kicked off at 6pm Thursday, millions of Nigerians were apprehensive over the outcome of the game. Their fear was justifiably understandable after the lackluster performance of the team in their opening group match on Sunday where they laboured go a 1-1 draw with Equitorial Guinea. The Super Eagles came from behind to pick a point from the game.
Thursday’s encounter with the host nation in a stadium the Eagles have not recorded a victory, captain William Troost-Ekong led by example with decisive penalty to restore confidence among their football lovees.
The Nigeria captain struck from the spot early in the second half in Abidjan as the Super Eagles claimed their first victory of the tournament and leapfrogged the Ivorians in Group A.
Ivory Coast spurned a host of chances and paid the price after Ola Aina was adjudged to have fouled Victor Osimhen in the area following a review by VAR.
The result meant Nigeria drew level with Equatorial Guinea on four points in the group, while Ivory Coast have three with one game to play.
Napoli forward Osimhen went close to giving Nigeria an early lead when he outpaced Serge Aurier but he was unable to keep his shot down.
That proved a rare opening for Nigeria in the first half as Ivory Coast dominated.
Christian Kouame was a threat up front for Ivory Coast but headed well over under pressure from Troost-Ekong.
Kouambe shot on the turn after Zaidu Sanusi failed to deal with a bouncing ball but goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali blocked.
Kouambe also pulled back across goal to tee up Evan Ndicka but he volleyed straight at Nwabali.
Nwabali then kept out a long-range effort from Seko Fofana and Sanusi reacted quickly to block Kouame’s follow-up attempt.
Nigeria seized the initiative early in the second half after Aina appeared to kick Osimhen in a challenge. Play was initially allowed to go on but the referee reversed his decision after reviewing on the pitchside monitor.
Former Watford defender Troost-Ekong made no mistake as he smashed home the resulting spot-kick.
Ivory Coast responded but Ousmane Diomande headed well over and Ibrahim Sangare also missed the target.
Fofana went closer as the hosts stepped up the pressure but his shot flew wide and Ndicka missed with a back-post header.
Bright Osayi-Samuel spurned a chance to wrap up victory for Nigeria when he delayed a shot but Ivory Coast failed to threaten again despite applying late pressure.