Nigeria not worried about lack of goals after reaching AFCON last 16

AFP , Monday 22 Jan 2024

Nigeria star Moses Simon dismissed concerns about the Super Eagles' misfiring attack after they needed an own goal to beat minnows Guinea-Bissau 1-0 and secure a place in the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Moses Simon
Nigeria s Moses Simon, right, duels for the ball with Guinea-Bissau s Nito Gomes during their African Cup of Nations Group A soccer match at the Felix Houphouet Boigny stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. AP

 

"We don't care if we score 20 goals, the most important thing for us is the victory," Nantes forward Simon said after collecting his award for man of the match.

The only goal of Monday's encounter at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan came in the 36th minute, as a low cross by Simon was emphatically turned into his own net by defender Opa Sangante, who had Victor Osimhen lurking behind him.

The result took the Super Eagles through to the last 16 in second place in Group A with seven points, behind Equatorial Guinea whose 4-0 destruction of hosts Ivory Coast left them with a far better goal difference.

Nigeria's domination had been sterile before the goal came, but they should have added to their lead after the break.

African player of the year Osimhen and substitute Zaidu Sanusi both had goals disallowed for offside in the second half, while Calvin Bassey had a penalty appeal turned down and Ola Aina blasted a good chance over.

"The main point is that we conceded no goals and we scored one. If we keep doing that we can reach the final," insisted coach Jose Peseiro, whose team were the top scorers in qualifying for the tournament with 22 goals in six games.

Nigeria, who drew 1-1 with Equatorial Guinea in their opening game, have since been efficient if not spectacular, defeating the Ivorians 1-0 with a William Troost-Ekong penalty before this result.

"My responsibility is to choose the best way to win this competition. I chose another strategy and the players believe in it -- to not concede goals because we will score at least one," Peseiro said, pointing out that Senegal only scored once in the group stage at the 2022 AFCON before going on to win the trophy.

Peseiro's team will now stay in Abidjan for a last-16 tie on Saturday against the runners-up in Group C, which will be Senegal, Guinea or Cameroon.

Franculino Dju had a goal ruled out for Guinea-Bissau, who were already eliminated before this game and finish with three defeats.

Shock winners away to Nigeria in qualifying last March, they have still never won a game in 12 attempts across four appearances at the Cup of Nations itself.

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