Super Eagles of Nigeria on Tuesday evening beat Cape Verde 2-1 in a away 2022 World Cup qualifier with Victor Osimhen equalizing after the Nigerian team conceded early goal.
Gernot Rohr started with Kenneth Omeruo, Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem, Innocent Bonke, Kingsley Michael and Chidera Ejuke as most of the Super Eagles players based in England had already traveled back to their clubs ahead of the premier league starting this weekend.
The first opportunity of the game came to Musa in the 6th minute from a Shehu Abdullahi low cross but he wasted the chance.
Cape Verde then took the lead on 18 minutes after Dylan Tavares got to a long cross before hitting a left-foot strike which beat young goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye at his near post.
In the 27th minute Ejike almost equalized but the home team keeper Vozinha punched the ba over the bar.
On the 30th minute, Osimhen pounced on a rebound, following a poor clearance by Kelvin Pires who directed Jamilu Collins’ cross toward goal.
In the second half, Musa in the 57th received a good cross from Osimhen but his shot failed to dislodge Cape Verde keeper. The 67th minute action saw a long ball from Collins to Ejuke but the assistant referee raised his flag for offside.
With 19 minutes left the Eagles made a tactical double change with Henry Onyekuru and Terem Moffi replacing Musa and Simon.
Onyekuru almost scored a minute later off a counter but his left strike was saved.
In the 76th minute, Kenny Rocha tried passing the ball to his keeper but the ball went over the line.
Vagner Diaz almost equalized for the host on 88 minutes after connecting with a diving header from a long cross but it was off target.
The game also saw Musa make his 100th appearance for the Super Eagles, joining Joseph Yobo and Vincent Enyeama to reach the figure.
With this second in, the Eagles now go six points and three points ahead of second placed Liberia.
Nigeria win WAFU B U17 Championship in Ghana
Five-time world champions, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria edged the Young Stallions of Burkina Faso 2-1 in Friday’s WAFU U17 final played at the Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana.
Forward Abubakar Abdullahi had threatened the Burkinabe rear as early as the 8th minute when his low drive streamed away from goal, but in the 22nd minute, he rose highest in the box to powerfully nod Emmanuel Michael’s perfect delivery into the net for Nigeria’s first goal.
In the 34th minute, Abdullahi missed a golden opportunity to make it two for himself and for Nigeria, but he fluffed his lines, allowing the Stallions a respite. The miss would knock hard seven minutes later, when Abdulramane Ouedraogo, also with a header, equalized for Burkina Faso.
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Two minutes into the second half, Abdullahi got his second and Nigeria’s second, taking the Golden Eaglets to a 2-1 lead. However, 12 minutes later, he should have made it a hat-trick and Nigeria’s third but he lost the opportunity.
Why Nottingham Forest move may be perfect for Taiwo Awoniyi’s growth
The Super Eagles forward is set to complete a move to Nottingham and will become the Reds’ first proof of seriousness on their Premier League return
For seven years, Taiwo Awoniyi was finding his foot in European football. His move to Liverpool had come as a stroke of the most unimaginable but such was his hard work that the Reds kept tabs with his progress.
He met his heroes in England, wined and dined with them and was offered an opportunity to train with some of the best players in the world. Those moments would have formed a halo for the young Awoniyi at the time – a circle of different lights, and one he would have been desirous of joining if he had his way.
Loan moves took him everywhere, from the Netherlands to Belgium and Germany as he tried to get a break and represent the Nigerian national team. The dream was to represent Liverpool, at the highest level of European football and it came so close yet far away.
Awoniyi would, this time, by the strength of his hard work settle for the lesser Reds, hoping to take the Premier League by storm as they ended their 23-year wait to play in the top flight.
Going by what the attacker has shown at Union Berlin, there’s a clear promise there. When he’s supported and is settled, he can be a real handful. His strengths are as clear as his weaknesses and that eases Steve Cooper’s decision to turn him to an even better spectacle.
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The Premier League takes no prisoners but attackers with similar profiles as Awoniyi’s have done the spectacular in the league until they can’t dig beyond deep. In Odion Ighalo, there’s an immediate example of what’s possible for an attacker without the glaring eyes.
This first wave is expected of the attacker and it will be an advantage if he pulls it.
In terms of style, there’s no much difference between the Premier League and the Bundelisga but the pressure-intensive style of the English top flight asks begging questions on most days. It has seen forwards from the German league struggle to get going in the Premier League but there has hardly been any as willing to hustle in the box as Awoniyi.
He has shown he can adapt to new systems as long as there’s a cushion behind him to pick the pieces of his heavy work. The quality Liverpool found in him as a raw youngster are still very evident in his game. Not the finest ball player from the technical point of view but his devastation in the box calls for respect.
Improved quality may be an advantage
Like Cyriel Dessers, his Super Eagles teammate rightly pointed out last weekend, Awoniyi’s quality can be judged by the quality of his runs more than the chances he missed.
He was the third player with the highest number of missed chances in the Bundesliga last season according to Whoscored. The first two on the list – Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and RB Leipzig’s Andre Silva are elite Bundesliga strikers and a glaring example that the Nigerian is in good company. The obvious reason they are there is because they get into good positions and if Awoniyi keeps this an art, he will get enough opportunities and with improved goalscoring, he will only get better. He is young and still improving and Nottingham Forest is just a step on the way to something bigger, in his head.
The aim is to play for the biggest teams in Europe, and that may only happen if he proves the point he desires.
The Reds or The Iron Ones: Something about starting small
In terms of profile, Nottingham Forest are somewhat similar in status and methods to Union Berlin, from a Premier League point of view and if the forward gets anything near the support he got at the German capital, he may be aiming even higher next season.
He, however has many doubts to quash, especially of how he will manage to make his weaknesses less visible and make his strengths count.
With the Reds owner, Evangelos Marinakis putting it all into the project, Awoniyi may just become a part of a beautiful, big presence of small boys in the league. That, however won’t come on a platter of gold, as history has shown. The cities are not usually accommodating for the newbies.
Should Nottingham Forest struggle to sail, as many already expect, the Nigerian forward must swim and use every opportunity he gets to charge for the future.
Latest FIFA ranking: Super Eagles suffer drop despite Sao Tome and Principe thrashing
Nigeria’s perfect win record in the opening stages of the Afcon qualifiers did not push the three-time African champions up the global ranking
FIFA, the world’s top football governing body, has released its ranking for June, with the Super Eagles now ranked fourth on the continent and 31st on the planet.
The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations champions were previously ranked 30th globally and third in Africa, behind only top-ranking Senegal and second-place Morocco.
But the Super Eagles dropped a step down to make room for Tunisia, the Carthage Eagles now 30th in the world and third on the continent. Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions complete the top five ranking teams in Africa.
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Surprisingly, Nigeria’s victories in their last two competitive matches failed to boost their status.
The Super Eagles defeated Sierra Leone 2-1 in Abuja to kickoff the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign on a winning note.
Nigeria’s recent two international friendly matches, however, appeared to have affected the national team’s standing.
The three-time Afcon champions lost to both Mexico (2-1) and Ecuador (1-0) in the United States.
Elsewhere, former world champions Brazil retain their place at the top of the standings, having replaced Belgium in March.
Belgium, Argentina, France, and England make up the top five.
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