Sierra Leone 2-3 Nigeria: Super Eagles qualify for AFCON 2023 with hard-fought win

AFCON Qualifiers: Ndidi watches as Super Eagles begin training

Nigeria secured their qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast after a 3-2 victory against Sierra Leone in Monrovia on Sunday.

A first-half brace from Victor Osimhen and a late strike from Kelechi Iheanacho were enough for the Super Eagles to bag maximum points despite a late onslaught by the hosts.

Goalkeeper Adebayo Adeleye has handed his Super Eagles debut while Jose Peseiro stuck with the defensive set-up that he used in their 1-0 win against Guinea-Bissau in March.

The three-time African champions controlled the opening 45 minutes of the encounter and their dominance was crowned with their lead at the break.

Osimhen opened the scoring in the 19th minute following a long through ball from Kenneth Omeruo and he doubled the lead a few minutes later, thanks to an assist from Joe Aribo just after the half hour-mark.

Jose Peseiro’s men dominated the opening 45 minutes of the encounter and their dominance was crowned with their lead at the break.

Captain Mustapha Bundu, however, halved the deficit for the Leone Stars by taking advantage of the Super Eagles’ sloppiness and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Adebayo.

The second half started with less intensity compared to the first, with the two teams struggling to create chances and it turned out to be a battle for the midfield.

Peseiro opted for a triple substitution with Frank Onyeka, Kelechi Iheanacho and Kevin Akpoguma replacing Joe Aribo, Samuel Chukwueze and Bright Osayi-Samuel respectively.

Shortly after, Osimhen was replaced by Taiwo Awoniyi and on the other end, Augustus Kargbo ignited Sierra Leone’s hopes of qualifying for the AFCON with his 84th-minute equaliser.

The Leone Stars pushed hard for the winning goal with less than 10 minutes to go but Adeleye’s brilliance between the sticks neutralised their threats.

In the final seconds of the five added minutes, Iheanacho took advantage of a counter-attack and he scored the winning goal that quashed Sierra Leone’s dreams of playing in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.

Nigeria are back to the top of Group A with 12 points from five games, Guinea-Bissau are second with 10 points while Sierra Leone have five points and Sao Tome and Principe sit at the bottom with just a point.

The Super Eagles’ final qualifying game will be a dead rubber against Sao Tome and Principe in September.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Top Stories