In an exciting match at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia, Nigeria secured their spot at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a 3-2 win over Sierra Leone. Here are Sporty9ja’s key takeaways from the game.
The hero of the match was undoubtedly Victor Osimhen, who delivered an outstanding performance for the Super Eagles. The Napoli striker scored two crucial goals in the first half, breaking the deadlock and doubling Nigeria’s lead. With these goals, Osimhen now leads the AFCON qualification goals chart with seven strikes and has surpassed the likes of Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa to join Samson Siasia in joint-sixth position on Nigeria’s all-time scoring chart.
Goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye made his Super Eagles debut and showcased his skills with several impressive saves, denying Sierra Leone crucial scoring opportunities, despite conceding two goals.
One aspect that raised eyebrows was Jose Peseiro’s decision regarding substitutions. The removal of Bright Osayi-Samuel, who had a strong impact as the right-back, seemed to have an adverse effect on Nigeria’s defence. His replacement, Kevin Alpoguma, struggled to tame Sierra Leone’s attack from the left wing, allowing the Leone Stars to gain an advantage during that period of the match.
The match against Sierra Leone highlighted Nigeria’s search for a reliable central defensive pairing in the absence of William Troost-Ekong. Kenneth Omeruo and Semi Ajayi were at the centre of the Super Eagles defence but allowed two goals from the Leone Stars, raising questions about defensive stability and the need for a consistent and dependable central defensive pairing going forward.
Despite the victory, the goals conceded will undoubtedly be a matter of concern for the Nigerian coaching staff. However, thanks to their hard-fought victory, Nigeria’s Super Eagles have secured their place at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. Sitting atop Group A with 12 points from five games, the three-time African champions can now focus on their last match against Sao Tome and Principe on home soil without the pressure of qualification hanging over their heads.