Ivory Coast vs Nigeria AFCON 2024: 5 things we learned from Super Eagles victory

Nigeria defeated the Elephants of Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) clash on Thursday, January 18.

These are five things we learned from the Super Eagles' victory:

Stanley Nwabali might be the real deal

Chippa United's Stanley Nwabali came under a lot of criticism for his performances in Nigeria's previous two games. The 27-year-old replaced Francis Uzoho between the sticks but conceded thrice in his first two appearances.

However, Nwabali proved his worth on Thursday, as his three saves kept the Super Eagles in the game. The question is, can he keep this up?

The defenders are starting to find their footing

All in all, this was a solid defensive effort. The Super Eagles defence held their own against an Ivory Coast side that had scored 18 times in their previous four matches.

Not only that, the Ivorians were unable to register a shot on target. This is a huge improvement for Nigeria, who had conceded in six consecutive games before their clash with Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria
Credit: Icon Sport

The importance of scoring first

Nigeria had conceded the first goal in six prior games, they managed to win just one of those matches. The problem with conceding first is, you'll end up playing catch-up.

This wasn't the case on Thursday, as the Super Eagles opened the scoring for the first time since October last year.

The difference is clear. When you score first, you can sit back and defend your lead.

Super Eagles still struggle in front of goal

Don't let Nigeria's victory fool you, the offense is still trying to find its stride. To put things into perspective, Peseiro's men registered just one shot on target in 90 minutes of play, which came from a penalty.

This is not a particularly good look for a team with players like Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman.

We can't always rely on penalties, and if the Super Eagles can't find other ways to score, they'll have some issues in the long run.

Ivory Coast vs Nigeria
Credit: Icon Sport

Super Eagles looked like contenders

After a string of disappointing performances, Nigeria finally looked like contenders on Thursday. Peseiro's side held their own against an in-form Ivory Coast side that was on a seven-match unbeaten run.

If they can go toe-to-toe with a team like Ivory Coast, perhaps the Super Eagles have a good shot at a fourth AFCON title. It'll be interesting to see if Nigeria can put up the same performance when they meet Guinea-Bissau next week.

Avatar photo
Kelechi Udoka

Kelechi is an avid Enyimba fan who enjoys writing about the beautiful game. He has written thousands of articles for a few publications over the years.