After an impressive display against Mohammed Salah and the Egyptians, Nigeria was tipped to defeat Sudan in Garoua, Cameroon on matchday 2 at AFCON 2021. Unbeaten in their last four outings, the Super Eagles knew that if they played with the same tempo they achieved against Egypt, they could get another win and punch their ticket to the second round with a game to spare. Augustine Eguavoen‘s men did just that despite the absence of Victor Osimhen and Emmanuel Dennis.
The Sudanese team plays cohesive football under Burhan Tia, and it earned them a point against Guinea Bissau on Matchday one. However, over their last three matches, they scored just two goals. None of those goals came in their last two matches.
After three minutes, the Super Eagles established their dominance as Samuel Chukwueze latched on to a pass from Moses Simon inside the Sudanese box and fired past Ali Abdallah Abu Eshrein.
The goal laid the foundation of what was to come as Nigeria did not let up. They dominated all the statistics from possession to shots on target. They kept probing the Sudanese defense and had chances to extend their lead. Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi attacked a superb cross with a fine header but was denied by the crossbar.
Then came Taiwo Awoniyi. He received a long pass into the box and did everything right but score. His terrific shot fizzed past the goalkeeper but only found the right post.
They say the third time is the charm, but it didn’t quite happen for the Eagles. Joe Aribo met a cross and managed to fashion space for a shot. The Rangers midfielder spurned his chance and shot wide.
The Super Eagles got their reward for their unrelenting pressure. Sudan failed to deal with Kelechi Iheanacho’s free-kick and it bounced off Awoniyi and into the net.
A goal at either end of the half saw The Super Eagles go into the halftime break with a comfortable 2-0 lead.
The Eagles started the second half the way they ended the first. The whistle had barely gone for the restart when Moses Simon slotted home a brilliant solo effort after a quick one-two with Awoniyi. Nigeria 3-0 Sudan. Game over!
Sudan had a mountain to climb and needed a lifeline. Ola Aina thought he got away with a shirt pull in the box when the referee waved play on. He was called back as VAR reviewed the incident and deemed it a penalty. Walieldin Khidir converted from the spot and threw Sudan a bone in the 70th minute.
Taiwo Awoniyi came close to his second and Nigeria’s fourth. He found himself in space in the box but dragged his shot inches wide off the right post.
Khidir’s penalty proved only a consolation for the Falcons of Jediane. The Eagles sealed their place in the knockout stages sitting comfortably at the top of Group D.