Nigeria have reclaimed top spot in Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers after defeating hosts Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau on Monday evening.
The result – secured by a first-half penalty from Moses Simon – saw the Super Eagles avenge a shock defeat at the hands of the Djurtus in Abuja last Friday, and took them to nine points atop the standings.
Guinea-Bissau are second on seven points, with Sierra Leone (five) and Sao Tome & Principe (one) in third and fourth respectively.
Nigeria manager Jose Peseiro opted for several changes in his starting XI compared to the teams’ meeting last Friday, with the likes of Moses Simon, Frank Onyeka and Terem Moffi coming into the line-up.
The visitors struggled to make any attacking headway inside the opening quarter, with only half-chances created for Moffi and Victor Osimhen, yet on the 30-minute mark they claimed the lead via a penalty from Moses Simon.
The spot kick was awarded after Guinea-Bissau’s Fali Cande was guilty of a late sliding challenge on the overlapping Bright Osayi-Samuel. Simon coolly dispatched the penalty to make it 1-0.
Osayi-Samuel draws the foul… 👊🏾
Moses Simon cooly converts from the spot.🤌🏾
Kenneth Omeruo with a quick pep talk.. 💪🏾
Guinea-Bissau 0-1 Nigeria
— Ojora Babatunde (@ojbsports) March 27, 2023
The Djurtus should have drawn level on 42 minutes when Dalcio played a great pass to put Nanu free down the right of the penalty area, but he opted for a cut-back rather than a shot at goal and the chance fizzled out, leaving the away side one goal to the good at the interval.
The Super Eagles almost doubled their lead 15 minutes into the second half when Osimhen picked up a loose ball in the penalty area, turned and fired off a low shot that rebounded off the base of the post.
Guinea-Bissau began to find a better-attacking rhythm as the second half went on, though they were unable to draw Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho into any serious action, while Jonas Mendes at the other end was forced into a couple of sharp saves to keep his side in the game.
Yet his efforts were in vain, as the Super Eagles managed the game and secured a narrow but deserved triumph which takes them a step closer to qualification for next year’s Afcon finals in the Ivory Coast.
The teams will resume their Group A campaign in June, with Guinea-Bissau away to Sao Tome & Principe, and Nigeria away to Sierra Leone.