Super Eagles are considered the favourates to win Afcon 2023 title, but they face a resurgent Ivory Coast side on Sunday evening.
The Super Eagles and the Elephants are both one match away from winning the Africa Cup of Nations championship.
Nigeria must contend with the support of the home fans at Alassane Ouattara Stadium in addition to playing against their rival on the pitch.
As this important game draws near, THEEAGLE looks at ways that head coach Jose Peseiro and his team may perform better than their rivals and the passionate home audience.
Attack their weaknesses
The Elephants’ defence hasn’t been appallingly weak, but they have allowed multiple opportunities for penetration, which may be encouraging for the Super Eagles’ attacking endeavours.
They have not kept a clean sheet since their opening game against Guinea-Bissau, which came against DR Congo. Yahia Fofana, the goalie for the home team, has allowed seven goals to be scored against them.
Conversely, Nigeria’s scoring efficiency hasn’t been particularly remarkable, but Ivory Coast would prefer not to see Fofana bombarded with shots. There’s always the chance that Ademola Lookman or Victor Osimhen could capitalise and convert one into a goal.
Block out the noise
It’s unlikely that any seats in the 60,000-seat Alassane Ouattara Stadium would be empty because the stadium is anticipated to be filled with orange-clad supporters.
Nigeria will have to find their beat and make their presence known in this difficult setting. Many times, winning early is seen as a way to quiet the home fans. Given that Ivory Coast has won two of its three knockout games after coming back from behind, this strategy might not work against them. When trailing in goals, Emerse Fae’s squad appears to perform well.
Therefore, the Super Eagles must dictate the pace of the game by controlling possession. Keeping the hosts at bay not only allows for strategic play but also alleviates unnecessary pressure from the spectators.
Contain the danger man!
Nigeria’s midfield shortcomings were a topic of much concern prior to the competition.
However, they have advanced to the last round by effectively establishing a working system.
Franck Kessie, who is on the rise, will now take on the Super Eagles. His noteworthy contributions culminated in his performance as Man of the Match against DR Congo in the semi-final.
The Nigerian defence is to be commended for their excellent work. The only time coach Peseiro’s three-man strategy has been broken is when Teboho Mokoena’s penalty broke it during the draw with Equatorial Guinea.
But there are vulnerable spots, especially on the side Semi Ajayi plays on, as South Africa bravely showed in the semifinals.
The way Bafana Bafana played in the second half was a great example for any team hoping to beat Nigeria, even though they couldn’t take advantage of their chances. They had nine opportunities to score goals in the second half, and they could have won if Khuliso Mudau had shown more composure under pressure.
Eyes on the prize
Nigeria, who have a strong history in the competition and are well-known for their football skills, are eager to add a fourth Afcon championship to their impressive trophy collection.
As the squad gets closer to the big game, this much-needed accomplishment provides a strong boost of confidence and drive, fostering a sense of pride and resolve.
The Super Eagles are ready to demonstrate their talent, tenacity, and unshakable dedication on the pitch as they pursue glory, leaving no opportunity unexplored. Their sights firmly fixed on the big prize.