How Nigeria rated against Equatorial Guinea
Dayo Ojo took the official Man of the Match honours, but Osas Okoro should have taken the accolades as Nigeria beat Equatorial Guinea at the 2018 African Nations Championship in Morocco.
The Super Eagles showed character to shake off a early setback and post their biggest win of the tournament so far, hammering the group’s whipping boys 3-1 to finish top.
It was a commendable end to their group phase campaign, which they finished as the only unbeaten team in the group. But how did the players fare?
IKECHUKWU EZENWA 7
Sold down the river by his defence, Ezenwa gave up a goal for the first time this tournament, but there was little any goalkeeper could have done about Salvatore Nsi’s header. Otherwise he was steady as a rock, thoigh he had very little to do.
OSAS OKORO 9
He did not win the official Man of the Match award, but really should have. Strong as he was at his primary duty of defending, Nigeria’s best attacking moves originated from his side. And he delivered world-class crossed balls, one of which zeroed in to Okpotu’s head for the first goal.
DANIEL ITODO 7
Not the same effect as Okoro, but with the opposition content to sit back, he had plenty of time to venture forward. And one of his long throws almost led to a goal.
STEPHEN EZE 7
Was ball-watching for the goal; a big blotch on his so far stainless copybook. Otherwise, another impeccable defensive display by the man who has been Nigeria’s defensive lynchpin.
KALU ORJI 7
Hopelessly out position for the goal, and like Eze was ball-watching when it arrived, leaving three attackers unmarked. Recovered enough to snuff out anything that came his way.
IFEANYI IFEANYI 6
It is really hard to pinpoint what is going on with Ifeanyi. Yes, it was not a bad display and he made some decisive interceptions in the first half, but there is a lot more there than we are seeing. Or are we expecting too much? Hooked on the hour. And deservedly so.
EMEKA ATULOMA 8
A much better performance from him on the night. Shut down the opposition on the few occasions when they forgot themselves and tried to be ambitious. Provided the platform for Nigeria’s attacking adventures.
DAYO OJO 9
Started in place of Rabi Ali and it was immediately clear that he will be a starter going forward. Passed with confidence, arrived with menace into the box, and hit a spectacular goal from range.
SUNDAY FALEYE 8
Good things to be said for Faleye, but also not so good things. On the plus side, he doesn’t just put himself about, but also gets into great positions, and he did so many times on the night. On the negative side, he seems to have a propensity for missing chances, like the one that could have levelled the score for Nigeria before halftime.
EMEKA OGBUGH 7
Provided plenty of attacking threat down the channel, and cutting in-field pulled defenders towards him and allowed Okoro plenty of room to hug the line and deliver crosses.
ANTHONY OKPOTU 8
At last, Okpotu finally showed what he is about. That diving header to draw the Super Eagles level was a typical striker’s goal. The read on the ball, the movement, the dive in front of the defender and the slight head movement to direct the ball into the corner. Perfection. He also won the penalty for Nigeria’s third goal.
RABIU ALI 8
Came on for Ifeanyi on the hour-mark and made an instant impact. Set up Ojo for that cracker of a goal, then tucked away a penalty. But his half-hour display proved that, at his age, he would be better deployed as an impact sub.
NURA MOHAMMED 7
Another day, another late entry for the youngster — and another super performance. Great running, good positions, and unlucky not to turn in another Osas Okoro cross. All this in just 15 minutes after coming on for Ogbugh.