Sunday 7 July 2019

/ by Colin Udoh

Oghenekaro Etebo was again in excellent form as the Super Eagles rallied from surrendering an early lead to pull an epic comeback win over Cameroon in the Africa Cup of Nations round of 16 on Saturday in Alexandria.
Odiomn Ighalo’s brace puts him on the board for high marks, but who else stood up to be counted on a night when heart was needed and heart was exactly what was on show?

It is hard to put the blame at his doorstep for any of the two goals, especially the first. But we have been spoiled so rotten by the brilliance of Vincent Enyeama’s shot-stopping skills, that we expect our goalkeepers to triumph over strikers in one v ones. That said, he came up big when it mattered at the point when Cameroon were doing their best to batter down the door

His early going throw caused problems for Cameroon but he had a time of it trying to keep up with the ferocious pace of the duo of Christian Bassogog and Clinton N’Jie, who swapped positions at will and almost always seemed to be able to fly past him. Beaten by Bassogog to cross for Cameroon’s first goal. But he stuck to his task and by the latter stages of the game, he had found their number and his cross led to Ighalo’s second goal

After the highs of three great games, I guess he was due one not so great game. Struggled with his timing against the same duo for much of the first half and was outstripped an d swatted off the ball by N’Jie for the second goal. He had got them sussed out by the second half.

One of those days for him. Defended well overall, but his hurried clearances away - especially in the second half - always seemed to end up with the opposition, inviting further pressure. Won all his aerial battles and led from the back as the Super Eagles defended set pieces with relative ease

Immense performance from the centreback, again showing why his absence was such a miss against Madagascar. Had a few anxious moments, but overall, there are few adjectives to describe how immense his performance was. It simply had everything

A disciplined energetic performance from the Leicester man. His ability to read the play, be at the right place at the right time to close down passing lane and hunt down Eric Choupo-Moting helped the Eagles control the game for long periods

It is a high bar indeed to a perfect 10, but all Etebo needed here was to get a goal and he would have had it. A dynamo in midfield, his boundless energy, fearless tackling and ability to interrupt play is what kept the Super Eagles on the front foot.

Started by launching a long ball to Awaziem straight from kickoff that caused all manner of chaos in the Cameroon area and forced a cornerkick. Then he went almost invisible before bursting to life in the second part o the game and finishing off with the winning goal.

Took on players, caused problems with his pace and running and dropped back to help Awaziem with defending. Delivered the ball to Ighalo for the first goal.

Endless running and hard work from the stand in captain. Involved in all three Nigeria goals. Won the free kick for the first goal, cushioned the ball with his chest to Ighalo for the second and intercepted the ball to find Ighalo for the set up to Iwobi for the winner. 

No arguing with two goals and one assist. It could even have been a hat trick but for a brilliant save from Onana when the Nigeria forward turned and shot from close range.
Hard to add anything to this performance. A true striker’s display, not to mention his constant attempts to ginger his teammates even before kickoff.

On for Simon with an hour gone, his willingness to run, take players on and let fly from distance left the Cameroonians petrified and almost led too an Ighalo goal

His brief was to keep the Cameroon defenders busy, win headers in both boxes and help see out the win. He lost the ball too many times, unfortunately.

Not enough time for a rating

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