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Nigeria Held By Equatorial Guinea

Nigeria could only manage a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea in their opening AFCON Group A encounter at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on Sunday afternoon.

It was a disappointing start for Jose Peseiro’s team, who were strong favourites for the game.

It was the first game at the AFCON with a player from the DStv Premiership starting, with Chippa United goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali making the Super Eagles line-up, earning his third cap for his country.

And it was also the first game of the AFCON for the South African referee, Abongile Tom, who controlled the match very well in the middle.

Zaidu Sanusi should have put the Super Eagles in front of the tenth minute, but his first-time shot from the left with the goal open, went wide and high.

On the odd occasion that ‘Nzalang Nacional’ threatened, they were unable to make an impact in the final third, though Jose Machin Dicombo did shoot wide in the 25th minute with a long-range attempt.

But for all of Nigeria’s domination, there wasn’t too much work for Jesus Owono in Equatorial Guinea’s goal. Reigning African footballer of the year, Victor Osimhen couldn’t get his header on target at the half-hour mark.

And Nigeria would come to regret not using that early advantage, as in the 37th minute, Iban Edu Salvador fired in his sixth goal for his country, his left-footed strike from the centre of the box going into the left corner as Nwabali headed to the right.

However, Equatorial Guinea’s lead was short-lived, as just two minutes later Osimhen had Nigeria level, heading in Ademola Lookman’s cross from close range. 

Just before the break, Moses Simon had a good chance to give Nigeria the lead, but Owono got down well to push his attempt onto the woodwork and behind. 1-1 at the break.

After the break, while perhaps dominating less, Nigeria continued to look the team more likely to score again, but first they had to get past Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper Owono, who was putting in a man of the match performance.

He made an excellent save to deny Sanusi in the 54th minute, and Lookman was unable to get the follow-up on target. Owono was in a good position again a minute later, this time to deny Osimhen, as Nigeria pushed for the go-in-front goal.

Ola Aina made an excellent run into the box in the 66th minute, and fired in a shot from the right, but again Owono was up to the task, making another save to keep his team level.

Osimhen had a golden opportunity with 15 minutes to go, as he found himself one-on-one with Owono, but the Napoli striker fired just wide of goal. Emilio Nsue’s shot flew over a minute later at the other end.

The Super Eagles pushed in the final minutes but found a stubborn defence in their way, as Equatorial Guinea looked to hold on for a valuable point. Owono came out bravely to save at the feet of Lookman in stoppage time, as time began to run out.

A late flurry by Nigeria was kept out and after a corner was cleared, referee Tom blew his final whistle, and it remained level.

The other match in the group was played on Saturday, with hosts Ivory Coast beating Guinea Bissau 2-0.

Equatorial Guinea take on Guinea Bissau in the next match, while Ivory Coast will take on Nigeria. Both games will be played on Thursday.

iDiski Times
iDiski Times
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