By Victor Okoye
Abuja, March 27, 2023
Wing forward Moses Simon utilised a penalty kick for Nigeria’s Super Eagles to defeat Guinea Bissau 1-0 on Monday in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the win helped them to reclaim leadership of the qualifiers’ Group A which they lost on Friday in Abuja.
In the match day 4 fixture at the Estádio Nacional 24 de Setembro in Bissau, the Super Eagles were scoring their first goal in four matches.
After Friday’s shocking 0-1 loss to Guinea Bissau at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, the Super Eagles knew only a victory in Bissau would suffice.
Head Coach Jose Peseiro made five changes to his starting 11 from Friday’s game, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi starting from the bench.
The Super Eagles started on a positive note and dominated the opening quarter of the game, but Guinea Bissau defended well.
Nigeria piled on the pressure while the Wild Dogs were just contented with sitting back and soaking up the pressure from their visitors.
But just before the half-hour mark, impressive Fenerbahce full-back Bright Osayi-Samuel took matters into his hand by dashing into the host’s penalty area.
He was consequently hacked down and the Mauritian referee had no choice but to award a penalty kick which Simon stepped up to convert calmly and superbly in the 29th minute.
Five minutes later, Nigeria had another golden opportunity to double the lead following a counter-attacking move which saw Samuel Chukwueze and Victor Osimhen against a Guinea-Bissau defender.
However, Chukwueze ignored sending an easy pass to Osimhen for a shot which went way off the mark, much to Osimhen’s disappointment.
Semi Ajayi came close again with a header moments later but his header was easily saved as Nigeria went into the break with a slim lead.
It was a slow start to the second half in Bissau as Nigeria looked for the second goal to kill off the game.
But it was not until just before the one hour mark that Super Eagles came close as Osimhen rattled the post from nothing.
Four minutes after the Osimhen chance, a defensive mix-up in the Nigerian defence led by goalkeeper Francis Uzoho almost gave the hosts a lifeline but their blushes were saved.
Joe Aribo came on and nearly made an immediate impact following good footwork from Simon.
But the Southampton midfielder saw his well-taken effort excellently saved by the Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper.
It was the last real opportunity in the game as the Super Eagles held on to take home a slim win that sees them return to the top of Group A.
They have now upstaged from the apex position Guinea Bissau who toppled them on Friday in Abuja with a 1-0 win.
Guinea Bissau are with seven points from four matches and in second place, ahead of Sierra Leone who have five points from four matches.
NAN reports that Nigeria will next face the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in a Match Day 5 fixture.