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AINA PUTS ON A SHOW TO TOP RANKINGS

Sunday, 23 June 2019

/ by Colin
Samuel Chukwueze terrorized the Burundi defence and earns high marks


Odion Ighalo stepped off the bench to shoot Nigeria to a hard-fought 1-0 win over newcomers Burundi to open their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

The big striker scored with only his second touch the game after coming on as a substitute for Paul Onuachu, braking the resolve of the debutants.

Despite the slim scoreline, there were some big performances all across the pitch for Nigeria



AKPEYI 7
Started off making a big point blank save from Cedric Amissi and then proceeded to make about four more in just the first half alone. But he was also guilty of some nervous, heart-stopping moments. The first when he miscontrolled a backless, and the second after Nigeria scored when he mishandled the ball. Twice

ABDULLAHI 5
Looked unfit from the get go and was no surprise when he pulled up with something and had to be substituted. Prior to that, he looked steady, comfortable and his usual aggressive self on the right side contributed to his injury

AINA 9 (MOTM)
Monster performance from the fullback, who started at left back only because Jamilu Collins got injured on the eve of the game. Anticipated well, defended strongly, read the play intelligently and attacked aggressively down the left channel. His cheeky reverse pass to Ighalo for the goal was reminiscent of the Austin Okocha  and Ben Iroha combination against Cote d’ivoire at Tunisia 94

OMERUO 8
Strong candidate for man of the match and but for Aina’s assist, could have claimed it. Was immense all game through. Smothered the threat of Fiston Abdul Razak, keeping Burundi’s danger man quiet for most of the game. Put his body on the line to make a crucial block. Almost broke the deadlock when he met Oghenekaro Etebo’s free kick at the far post.

TROOST-EKONG 7
Strong on the ball, won his battles with Abdul Razak and contested strongly in the air and tracked with pace. His partnership with Omeruo looks  toe blossoming nicely

MIKEL OBI 5
Not the best of days for the Super Eagles skipper. He looked off the pace, missed a header that he would normally have put away and looked relieved when his number was called for substitution.

NDIDI 8
Powerful running, strong tackling and and even an offensive foray or two were all part of the Leicester man’s repertoire on the night. 

ETEBO 8
Energetic, quick and incisive. Etebo’s dynamic play covered for the lapses ahead of him. He all but ran himself aground covering space and keeping Gael Bigirimana from running away with midfield control

IWOBI 8
Looked on the fringes of the play in the opening minutes but came into his own once he was moved centrally. His quick, one-touch passing opened up space upfront and helped keep Burundi pinned to their own half for the rest of the game


CHUKWUEZE 7
Looked fearless in his firs senior major tournament start and terrorised the Burundi fullbacks and genre backs no end. One deadly run in the second Hal left two players on their backsides and nursing their waists as the Villareal forward stood over them with an impish smile on his face

ONUACHU 6
Earned his place on the team on the back of that sensational performance and goal against Egypt. But against Burundi, as in subsequent games, has struggled to capture the same sort of form. A lack of service did not help.

SUBSTITUTES 
AWAZIEM 6
On for the injured Abdullahi, gave a steady perforce but one strewn with almost a foul a minute

MUSA 7
Changed the complexion of the game almost as soon as he came on. Ran at fullbacks, played combination balls and set up at least two superb low crosses that could have been turned in.

IGHALO 7
Showed once again that class is permanent. Threatened from the moment he stepped on the pitch and scored almost instantly. Could have scored even earlier but for a heavy first touch which took the ball away from him. But there was to be no mistake for the second.






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