In a pulsating Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) round of 16 fixture, Super Eagles of Nigeria produced a brilliant fightback from 2-1 down to win 3-2, with Alex Iwobi’s strike sealing the win, and possibly saving Gernot Rohr’s job.
As always, the match provided a number of talking points, so here’s seven things we learned from the big game:
7. A Defensive Nightmare
While the Eagles looked comfortable and creative on the ball, the back four creaked, groaned and were split asunder far too easily on more than half-a-dozen occasions. The Nigerian right flank was repeatedly exposed and the centre-back pairing of Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong discovered that a moment’s hesitation results in a good striker like Stephane Bahoken filling his boots.
While the Super Eagles persevered and picked up an important win against the Indomitable Lions, their inability to play out from the back was clear to see once again.
Chidozie Awaziem in particular looked uncomfortable with the amount of time he was expected to have the ball at his feet, which makes a strong case for fit again Jamilu Collins to come in. Kenneth Omeruo was a suspect too.
6. Odion Ighalo Came To The Party
Odion Ighalo man was relentless and very effective) in his pressing play against the Indomitable Lions, and can be credited with putting great pressure on the Cameroon defence – often causing them to make calamitous errors. He was rewarded with a brace.
5. Gernot Rohr’s Sub Vindicated
For all his faults on Saturday, including his choice of starting personnel, one decision Rohr got spot on was his first substitution. Moses Simon was largely ineffective, with Samuel Chukwueze being sent on in his place. The Villarreal youngster was flying down the right flank with his silky skills and trickery. The tactical change gave Nigeria an extra creative force, justifying Rhor’s decision. His team selection may have set Nigeria up to lose, but his reaction to going 2-1 down won Nigeria the game in the end.
4. Wilfred Ndidi Was Fantastic
Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi who plays for Leicester City, had a terrific game on Saturday. Throughout the match, Ndidi did a great job covering for his back four, cleared away multiple dangerous services into the Eagles area and was strong in possession, repeatedly switching the point of the attack for Nigeria.
3. Rohr Deserves Some Credit
The second period initially yielded a more salutary lesson in the basics of defending and finishing, and all the promise of the opening half evaporated 17 minutes after the re-start. But Rohr deserves enormous credit for rebuilding from the wreckage of 2-1 down on the fly and his team ultimately showed more clinical poise in front of goal and caused a hesitant Cameroon defence all kinds of problems.
2. Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi Did A Great Job
Cameroon had the better of the play on Saturday, but Nigerian keeper Daniel Akpeyi did a terrific job keeping his side in the match. When the game stood at 2-1, the Kaizer Chiefs star kept his side alive making difficult saves.
1. Nigeria’s Second-Half Resurgence
The Eagles into the tunnel with a 2-1 deficit but came out looking like a completely different team.
In the second half, they took the game to the Indomitable Lions and pressed their midfield out of play.
Nigeria were still hassled and harrowed in the first half, but their second half performance and indomitable spirit sealed a well-deserved win.