Nigeria's Moses Simon was voted as the man of the match after the Super Eagles did just enough to earn a 1-0 win over the Wild Dogs of Guinea-Bissau and advanced to the next round of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) in Ivory Coast.
The only goal scored at the Félix Houphouët 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 around.
The three points meant that Nigeria finished with seven points in Group A, behind Equatorial Guinea, who stunned the hosts Ivory Coast by 4-0 and secured the top spot.
The Ivorians are hanging on for dear life with the belief that they might still get a chance to qualify as one of the best third-placed teams, while Guinea-Bissau crashed out in the first round.
Simon not bothered by Super Eagles goals at AFCON 2024
The Nantes winger, who was starting for the first time in the competition, was crucial to Nigeria's triumph and featured for 90 minutes before being substituted late on.
After he was presented the award, Simon went on to dismiss concerns about the low-scoring form of the team and insisted that only a win would matter at full-time.
“I feel really good, I feel happy, the most important thing is the victory for the team. Actually, we are not worried, and for us, the most important thing is the group,” he commented when asked if he or his teammates were worried about the lack of goals.
“When the group is strong enough, the most important thing is the three points.
“We don’t care if you like to score 20 goals. The important thing for us is the victory.”
Only wins matter for Super Eagles coach Peseiro
Peseiro has defended his team about their lack of cutting edge but said there had been tournament winners in the past who couldn’t even get goals en route to winning.
“The main point is that we conceded no goals and we scored one. If we keep doing that we can reach the AFCON 2024 final,” insisted the Super Eagles coach.
“My responsibility is to choose the best way to win this competition. I chose another strategy and the players believe in it. We try not to concede goals because we know that we will score at least one.”
The Super Eagles will be hoping for a favourable fixture in the knockout phase that kicks off this weekend. They will play the runners-up in Group C, which is likely to be either Guinea or Cameroon.