AFCON 2023: Nigeria vs Equatorial Guinea player ratings – Super Eagles frustrated

Equatorial Guinea and the Super Eagles of Nigeria drew 1-1 in an entertaining encounter at the Stade Alassane Ouattara in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) opener.

The game produced all one could expect from a football game and had two goals scored.

Iban Salvador got the Equatoguineans in the lead in the 36th minute, but their goal was cancelled out two minutes later as Victor Osimhen restored parity for the Super Eagles to end the first half.

The Super Eagles dominated the game after the interval but failed to secure a decisive lead, with Osimhen missing two glorious chances, and Zaidu Sanusi and Ademola Lookman also failing to capitalise on their opportunities.

Equatorial Guinea withstood a barrage of stoppage-time pressure to eke out a well-earned draw.

Super Eagles Player Ratings in AFCON 2023 opener

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Photo by Icon Sport

Goalkeeper & Defence

Stanley Nwabali (5/10)

Didn't have too much to do but dealt with everything that was thrown his way. Beginning to make a claim for a starting spot.

Ola Aina (6/10)

Imperious in his duels. Calm when in possession of the ball, even if his passing was unambitious.

Zaidu Sanusi (6/10)

Played with real vigour up and down the left flank. But he fluffed his lines when he was presented with an opportunity to put the game to bed.

William Troost Ekong (6/10)

Showed signs of his age and declining physicality at times, but for the most, part defended well.

Sam Ajayi (5/10)

Appeared nervy from the off and gave Nigeria a lot to do.

Midfield

Alex Iwobi (6/10)

Started brightly but definitely faded.

Frank Oyeka (6/10)

Disciplined out of possession and made it difficult for Equatorial Guinea to turn their possession into anything more meaningful.

Alhassan Yusuf (7/10)

It was his Super Eagles debut but it looked he already belonged to the team. Put in an excellent shift. He had to be replaced in the second half after picking up an injury.

Attack

Moses Simon (5/10)

Gobbled up by Equatorial Guinea’s full-backs. Failed to get into the game effectively and his slow decision-making was groaned upon by the Nigerian fans.

Ademola Lookman (6/10)

He assisted Osimhen’s goal but failed to utilise his when he was presented with a goalscoring opportunity.

Victor Osimhen (6/10

He scored Nigeria’s equaliser but could have scored two more to win the day for the Super Eagles, but he missed those opportunities.

Subs& Manager

Samuel Chwukwueze (5/10)

Was in and out of the contest when he was introduced.

Joe Aribo (6/10)

He replaced the injured Yusuf and shuttled up and down industriously.

Calvin Bassey (5/10

He was disciplined when he came on and made few forward forays.

Bright Osayi-Samuel (N/A)

Paul Onuachu (N/A)

Jose Peseiro (5/10)

The Super Eagles sometimes seemed a little too attached to the blueprint rather than reacting to the moment.

Equatorial Guinea player ratings in AFCON 2023 opener

AFCON 2023 Suoer Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

Goalkeeper & Defence

Jesus Owono (8/10)

Firmly established as the number one for the Equatoguinean team, Owono delivered another assured display between the sticks against a dangerous Nigerian attack. His point-blank saves, including those from Osimhen, Zaidu, and Aina's shots, ensured that his side would leave the stadium with a point. He was adjudged the man of the match

Carlos Akapo Martinez (6/10)

Dealt well with Nigeria’s few attacks and got forward a bit

Esteban Orozco Fernandez (6/10)

Helped control the game from the back.

Saul Basilio Coco Bassy Oubina (7/10)

He was competent and offered Osimhen a stern contest.

Basilio Ndong Owono Nchama (7/10)

His partnership with Coco was exceptionally tight, ensuring they wouldn’t be overrun by the sharp Nigerian attack.

Midfield

Frederico Bicoro Akieme Nchama (7/10)

The key to everything. Made promising forays forward but lacked accuracy with shots and passes on the final third.

Pablo Ganet (6/10)

 Played some fine passes from time to time but lacked awareness.

Jannick Buyla (5/10)

Didn't provide enough of a tangible spark.

Jose Machin (6/10)

Produced some fine crosses in the final third but Equatorial Guinea's inability to progress the ball at pace was in part due to Machin’s reluctance to receive the ball in central areas.

Ivan Salvador (7/10)

Looked dangerous when making darting runs either with or without the ball. Just lacked the quality in the key moments. He crowned a superb performance with a goal.

Attack

Emilio Nsue (7/10)

Up against a hardworking Nigerian defence, Nsue once again proved why he is his country’s trusted centre-forward. He gave the Nigerian defence a lot to think about but didn’t have the cutting edge.

Subs & Manager

Alex Balboa (4/10)

 Impact was bizarrely minimal given how Nigeria dominated when he was introduced into the game.

Charles Ondo (5/10)

He replaced Buyla midway through the second half and adapted fairly well to difficult circumstances.

Santiago Eneme (4/10)

Gave the Nigerian midfield some trouble early doors but his influence quickly waned.

Luis Asue (N/A)

He had few minutes so his presence was not felt.

Juan Micha (8/10)

The Equatoguineans were disciplined when under relentless first-half pressure and played in their manager's image. The second half then saw much more intensity at the right time.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu is a purpose-driven Ghanaian sports writer with a sharp eye for excellence. He has had stints with www.kickgh.com inkandkicks.com and ghanafans.com. He loves to talk and write about football on the African continent.