The Super Eagles comfortably saw off the challenge of the Wild Dogs of Guinea 2-0 on Wednesday at the Roumdé Adjia Stadium in Garoua to cement top place in Group D with the maximum nine points.
A debut goal in the 56th by Umar Sadiq was followed by a rebound goal by Captain William Troost-Ekong in the 75th minute. Both goals were followed by lengthy VAR checks.
Sadiq should have opened the scoring in the 23rd minute when he latched on to a through pass from Kelechi Nwakali but he dallied and the Guinea Bissau goalkeeper was able to recover and foil the attempt.
Coach Augustine Eguavoen made eight changes to the 11 that started the victories over Egypt and Sudan. Only Ekong, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Wilfred Ndidi retained their spots but the Super Eagles were still a cut above the Guinea Bissau team.
Players like Alex Iwobi and Semi Ajayi were given the chance to show their reliability as backup and Eguavoen will have noted some insights.
Iheanacho was the supplier for Sadiq with an exquisite outside of the left foot pass that cut the Wild Dogs’ defence to shreds. Sadiq was substituted immediately he scored and Peter Olayinka came on in his place. Moses Simon also came on for Chidera Ejuke, who continued to flatter to deceive. This was in the 57th minute and in the 38 minutes, Simon showed why he has quickly become the Eagles’ most potent attacking lynchpin.
The Nantes forward would have registered the goal of the tournament in the 74th minute but after beating four Guinea Bissau players with body feints and leg-overs; his left-foot strike came back off the crossbar and the rebound was gobbled up by Ekong, who was given the Man-of-the-match award.
The top spot in Group D means the Eagles will play the third-placed team from Groups B, E, or F. This can be the Flames of Malawi; Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire; Foxes of Algeria; Leone Stars of Sierra Leane; the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea; Scorpions of The Gambia; Eagles of Mali; and the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.
The opponent will emerge on Thursday when Groups E and F conclude. The second-round match is scheduled for January 23 in Garoua.