As expected, the Super Eagles were able to qualify for the Africa Cup Of Nations with two wins from the last two qualifying games. The important away game in Benin was won 1-0, the 3-0 victory over Lesotho was the bonus in an almost perfect qualification.
The away game in Benin, which took place without an audience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was the key to a successful qualification. Even if the Nigerian national team was the better team for practically the entire game, as Overlyzer’s live statistics show in the graphic below, it took until stoppage time for the decision to be made.
Nigeria started with a very powerful offense: Victor Osimhen started as an attacker and the row of three behind was formed by Onyekuru, Iheanacho and Chukwueze. The Super Eagles were able to build up a lot of pressure in the first half and force Benin to make mistakes again and again. All that was missing was the redeeming opening goal and so, despite Nigeria’s clear superiority, it went 0-0 into the break.
Superior in all statistics
In the second half, Benin was able to provide a little more relief and also had first scoring opportunities. The superiority of Nigeria, however, was held up throughout the whole game: Gernot Rohr’s team had 56% possession of the ball, launched a total of 112 attacks and shot 15 times towards the goal. There were also ten corners, which meant that the guests were superior in all statistics.
Joker Onuachu scores the only goal
The important goal to make it 1-0 was not made until stoppage time. Racing Genk’s Paul Onuachu, who was substituted on after 71 minutes, headed the winning goal in the third minute of stoppage time. This meant that Nigeria could no longer be caught in the qualifying group and could approach the last game against Lesotho in a relaxed manner.
Strong starting eleven
Nevertheless, the German coach let the Super Eagles play largely in the best line-up against Lesotho. With Etebo and Iwobi, for example, only other potential starters made it into the first team. This time it was Victor Osimhen who gave Nigeria the lead after 22 minutes. Immediately after the break, Oghenekaro Etebo increased it to 2-0 – Osimhen provided the assist.
Nigeria also dominates Lesotho
As you can see in the trend graph for the game, the 2-0 was the starting signal for Nigeria’s best phase, in which the team could build up a lot of pressure and created several good chances. With the second half in particular, it comes as no surprise that Nigeria ended up with 69% possession and Lesotho only created three scoring opportunities. In the final phase, again substitute Paul Onuachu ensured the deserved 3-0 and thus the final score. With 14 points out of six games, Nigeria qualified very confidently for the upcoming tournament.
The exciting tournament will not start until 2022
In addition to some ‘old friends’, next year – the tournament will take place in January and February 2022 – there will also be some underdogs and debutants at the Africa Cup of Nations. For example, Gambia and the Comoros qualified for the tournament. Of course, the most successful teams in the history of the tournament, such as Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana, will be also there again. Nigeria can at least expect outsider chances at the tournament held in Cameroon.