AFCON Fireworks: Equatorial Guinea Rattles Predictable Nigerian Team

By Victor Enyinnaya on January 15, 2024

Africa Cup of Nations a.k.a AFCON is a biannual highest football summit being competed for by African countries that qualified for a particular edition in a given year. This edition is hosted by Ivory Coast and it kicked – off yesterday January 14, with matches in groups A and B.

 Nigeria played against Equatorial Guinea which its result and others are already known.

One will not border readers here on which country has started strong or not but fact is that we have seen number of games and would keep our fingers crossed as the biggest continental football festival continues to take its toll.

 As l did say in my earlier analysis, I was not taken aback on the result Nigeria posted against Equatorial Guinea.  Their pointers were already there glaring before this kick- off, forcing Equatorial Guinea to one all draw.  

However, one thing that started to manifest so early is the preparations of countries for the championship, even especially those widely regarded as minnows of the round leather game. The game is growing at the national level in most countries. The governments are spending much hiring sound foreign coaches to handle their teams and some in their ex-internationals to direct the affairs of their teams.  

We saw the cases of the games between supposedly two football powerful countries in the continent Nigeria and Egypt against Mozambique and Equatorial Guinea. True, that first game is always difficult however football has taken front seat development wise.  It was good one from Mozambique with their poor defending sense came back strongly in the second half to nearly shock the Pharaohs of Egypt in first group B encounter. Its dying minutes VAR inspired penalty that saved the multiple former champions off that averted upset.

Head or tail, this edition of AFCON is ongoing and it will be too early in the day to give any kind of prediction because of the few games that have been played so far. Truth is that as the premier football summit in the continent, there ought to be highest standard of improvement and expansion of the game in African countries. 

From the point of view and what is likely to continue to unfold, it looks as if the remaining groups’ games would be more difficult judging from the warning shots from Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique national teams to their various earlier opponents. If other teams would sustain the tempo Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique had set, it would mean that tough and choking scenarios loom.

Such upwardly showing by teams would further set the tone for interesting championship. It will also give the fans enough to cheer and talk about. It will further send favourable signals to other world African football and her players are speedily arriving.

To be honest with you, I enjoyed the displays and guts of Equatorial Guinea against Nigeria. The team took the game to the Eagles and 36 minutes later their efforts paid off.  However, two minutes later (38minutes) Victor Oshinmen equalized for Nigeria. Later it became a dig-dug affair between the two countries and despite some pressures Nigeria piled on their opponent, no other goal was scored as the Equatorial Guineans held Nigerians tactically until the referee’s final whistle.  

AFCON has over these years grown into a formidable biannual championship which has attracted the attention of world playing countries, coaches and other relevant stakeholders of the game. It has affected many clubs’ performances in their various leagues as the absence of reputable African players in those clubs are badly felt during the duration of the tournament.

In that colouration therefore, AFCON is no longer a push over football summit in the calendar of world football.  It is also instructive to note that AFCON overall prize money went up considerably which motivation analysts and keen African football watchers have roundly applauded.  This particular step by the executive committee of AFCON no doubt would add more vigour into the competitive spirit of the players which is better for the overall output of the championship.

As the current fire works continue, the more established football playing countries would put their houses in order having seen what nearly befell Nigeria and Egypt at the hand of their opponents during the opening games yesterday.

We will keep our fingers crossed. Keep shooting hard till next week. Meanwhile we wait!!  

 

 

 

 

Source Daily Sports Nigeria

Posted January 15, 2024


 

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