Nigeria vs Equatorial Guinea AFCON 2023: 5 things we learned from Super Eagles draw

The Super Eagles Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2023) opener didn't go as well as they had hoped, as they played out a 1-1 draw with Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea.

These are five things we learned from Nigeria's disappointing, result:

Super Eagles don't look like contenders

Alongside Ivory Coast, Nigeria's Super Eagles are the favourites in Group B. Watching the Ivorians play on Saturday, you could tell they knew exactly what they were doing. Jean-Louis Gasset's men didn't have many chances, but they made the best of their chances.

The Super Eagles looked confused half the time. The entire team in general lacked cohesion, with the midfielders failing to properly connect with the forwards. Jose Peseiro's men will have to do better if they are to be taken seriously.

Nigeria vs Equatorial Guinea: Five things we learned from Super Eagles draw
Credit: Icon Sport

Injuries are becoming a cause for concern

Alhassan Yusuf was stretchered off shortly before the 70-minute mark. While we're still waiting for the status of his injury, it's a bit concerning how many Super Eagles players have been injured in the past couple of weeks alone.

It's worth bearing in mind that Yusuf didn't even make Peseiro's AFCON 2023 squad, he replaced an injured Wilfred Ndidi a few days before the tournament. Nigeria will find it difficult to win anything if they are unable to stay healthy.

Early goals are still an issue

Opta Nigeria posted a tweet after Nigeria's loss to Guinea earlier this week. The Eagles were unable to win the last 11 matches in which they trailed at half-time, with a draw and 10 losses.

To be fair, Peseiro's side were on level terms at the half-time break, but the point still stands: The Super Eagles aren't particularly great at comebacks.

Nigeria have now conceded first in six consecutive matches, and they won just one of those games. This is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Super Eagles need to be more efficient in front of goal

The interesting thing about Sunday's draw is, the Super Eagles had their chances, but they were unable to convert them. Peseiro's men had a total of eight big chances, and they missed seven of them.

If you're struggling to score against Equatorial Guinea, it's going to be even more difficult to break an Ivory Coast defense that allowed just one goal in their last four matches.

At this point, the Super Eagles need all the points they can get, they can't afford to be wasteful.

Perhaps Peseiro really doesn't know his onions

Prior to Nigeria's AFCON 2023 opener, X user @TheoAbuAgada pointed out that Peseiro “has no record of achievements as a coach.”

For someone who has managed teams like Sporting CP (twice), FC Porto and SC Braga (twice) it's a little concerning that Peseiro's biggest achievement as a manager is an Egyptian Premier League title he won with Al Ahly.

For someone who has been coaching for three decades, the Portuguese coach's résumé isn't as appealing as it should be.

A question Nigerians have been asking for months is: Is José Peseiro even the right man for the Super Eagles job? The answer to that question remains to be seen.

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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.