Equatorial Guinea hammered hosts Ivory Coast to top the group, and Nigeria also won to advance in second – but the hosts’s future is in the balance as Group A wrapped up in Abidjan, at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
In the final games of Group A in Abidjan, hosts Ivory Coast took on Equatorial Guinea at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, while Nigeria took on Guinea Bissau at Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
Equatorial Guinea stunned the Mighty Elephants, hammering them 4-0, while Nigeria were also victorious, winning 1-0 in their fixture.
The results mean that Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria advance in first and second respectively, but the hosts will have to wait and see if they finish in the four best-third positions. While they are currently one of the only third-placed teams on three points, they are also the only side to have completed their three games.
Going into the fixtures, Equatorial Guinea topped the group, ahead of Nigeria, both on four points, Ivory Coast were third with three, while Guinea Bissau were pointless.
The Super Eagles looked to control things at Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Still, while they pressed hard, Jonas Mendes was hardly tested until saving Joe Aribo’s 21st-minute attempt. At the other end, Stanley Nwabali was called into action with early long-range-but-tame shots from Nito Gomes and Dálcio failing to trouble the big Chippa United man.
The Nigerians thought they had a penalty in the 28th minute when Samuel Chukwueze’s cross hit a Guinea Bissau defender’s arm, but referee Karboubi Bouchra waved play on, and VAR did not intervene.
But the deadlock was broken in the 36th minute, as Opa Sangate scored an own goal, trying to clear Moses Simon’s well-placed cross ahead of an oncoming Victor Osimhen.
Meanwhile, at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, Emilio Nsue gave Equatorial Guinea the lead in the 42nd minute against the hosts, finishing well after being set up by Carlos Akapo.
The Ivorians thought they were level moments later, but VAR cancelled out Ibrahim Sangaré’s effort for an off-side call.
Just before the break Osimhen went wide with a header, and at half-time, positions in Group A remained the same, as Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea both led 1-0 in the respective fixtures.
Mendes made a big save two minutes into the second half, as he saved at Simon’s feet with a goal beckoning for the Super Eagles. Famana Quizera’s free-kick attempt in the 50th minute went wide of Nwabali’s goal.
Another Osimhen header was just off target in the 57th minute, while moments later Nwabali made a good save from Gomes after a swift Guinea Bissau counter-attack.
Nigeria thought they were in front in the 58th minute, but VAR ruled out Osimhen’s effort, and also a penalty call they had just before the ball was in the back of the net. Alex Iwobi shot wide three minutes later.
At Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara, the Ivorians were piling on the pressure and looked to have levelled matters through Jean-Philippe Krasso in the 67th minute, only for VAR to once again rule the goal out.
But things got worse for the hosts when Equatorial Guinea doubled their lead, Pablo Ganet’s excellent set-piece effort silencing the Ivorian supporters.
And it was 3-0 in the 74th minute, as Nsue got his second, putting the Ivorian’s future in the competition in the balance.
Guinea Bissau went close to equalising in the 82nd minute but the off-side flag ruled out Marcian Tshami’s effort. Moments later Nigeria also had a goal ruled out.
Nwabali denied Tshami in the 85th minute with a fingertip save, as the Super Eagles hung on for the result.
Meanwhile Jannick Buyla rubbed salt into the wounds, adding a fourth goal for Equatorial Guinea in the 88th minute.
Guinea Bissau heads home, but the Ivorians will have a nervous 48 hours as they wait to see how other groups resolve and whether they still remain in the competition.