By Eniola Olatunji
…None Clinical Nigeria places second in Group A.
The National Thunder of Equatorial Guinea struck intensely to cripple hosts Elephants of Ivory Coast with four devastating goals to nothing that became a national embarrassment to Ivory Coast whose qualification as a lucky loser is so much doubtful.
The biggest defeat of Ivory Coast was 0-5 to Netherlands on 4th June 2017 at Rotterdam and the VAR disqualified the two goals the Ivoirians scored at the Alassane Quattara Stadium, Ebimpe.
AS the Elephants stumble, Nigeria’s Super Eagles that went into their match against the African Wild Dogs with a dream to top Group A, only got a low flight above the Wild Dogs at the Felix Houphouet 1-0 in a miserable victory because they were not clinical in the penalty box. Nigeria with the accolade of having best Strikers in the tournament had eleven shots at goal and only one was on target showing a lesser mark of champions.
The revelation of the Total Energy African Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, Emilo Nsue of Equatorial Guinea who is the only player to have a hat trick to his credit at this tournament went on rampage striking like true thunder twice in a Brace (two goals scored in a match) bringing his goals haul to five, the highest by any player in the tournament.
Nsue who got his hat trick against Guinea Bissau on 18th January scored in the 42nd minute and the 3rd goal against Ivory Coast in the 75th minute.
Pablo Ganet scored the 2nd goal against Ivory Coast in the 73rd minute while Jannick Buyla Sam topped it up in the 88th minute.
In the matches played simultaneously, Nigeria’s only goal was actually an own goal scored by Opa Sangate in the Wild Dog defence who feared so much African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen who was breathing hard at his back when he turned a good lobby from mesmerizing Simon Moses on the left flank into his net.
Nigerian lost so many glaring and painful chances that made me remember the late Shooting Stars of Ibadan foremost fan, Alhaji Ganiyu Elekuru aka Baba Eleran (Meat Seller) who would have unintentionally kicked anyone standing before him silly in his perpetual habit whenever the Shooting Stars missed glaring chances.
Incidentally Nigeria’s veteran attacker and former Green Eagles Captain, Patrick Olusegun Odegbami was there live at the stadium. He told the players on Sunday that he believes assuredly that Nigeria will lift the trophy and these crops of players can do it. Well I report that despite the low scoring performance of the Super Eagles, every National team in Ivory Coast is afraid of the Nigerians.
However, the Thunders of Equatorial Guinea majestically topped Group A with 7 points scoring 9 goals conceding 3 with +6 goals difference; Nigeria qualified placing 2nd with 7 points too but scoring 3 goals conceding 1 goal and with +2 goals difference; hosts Ivory Coast threw the entire country into mourning placing 3rd with 3 points scoring 2 goals conceding 5 goals and having -3 goals deficit which is tight for a lucky losers’ place among the four teams that may be pushed into the last 16. The African Wild Dogs will tuck their tails in between their legs and take the next flight home as the team placed 4th with a point scored 2 goals and conceded 7 goals.
I confirm that four teams are on standby now for the last 16 matches. Equatorial Guinea will play on Sunday at 6pm; Nigeria will play on Sunday too at 9pm Cape Verde despite having an outstanding match will play on Monday but Senegal that has qualified will wait to meet Guinea in group C tomorrow to know who tops the group.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the African Wild Dog of Guinea Bissau met thrice first at an AFCON match on 19th January 2022 where Nigeria won by a lone goal; on 24th March 2023.
Guinea Bissau shocked Nigeria in Abuja in the qualifier to this AFCON final by a lone goal but Nigeria got a good revenge same lone goal victory on the return match played on 27th March 2023.
The Elephants of Ivory Coast met the National Thunder of Equatorial Guinea on 29th March 2015 in a friendly match and on 12th January 22 in an AFCON encounter the Ivoirians won by a lone goal.
Later at 9pm today, already qualified Cape Verde will play Egypt and Mozambique must beat Ghana to survive.
Tomorrow Tuesday at 6pm, The Scorpions of Gambia on the bottom of Group C will try to sting Indomitable Lions of Cameroon to survive while at the same time, The Syllis of Guinea will play Defending Champions, Teranga Lions of Senegal.
Also tomorrow at 9pm, Mauritania and their neighbor Algeria will play in group D and Angola will tackle the Stallions of Mali.
Eniola Olatunji reporting for Patmos Media Line.
#CAF #IvoryCoast2023 #NFF.