Lone Strike From Odion Ighalo Saves Nigeria

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By Emmanuel Ebimoh

It took the Super Eagles of Nigeria 77 minutes to break the deadlock against the Swallows of Burundi in their first group match of the 2019 AFCON competition. A superlative back-heeled pass by Ola Aina sent Odion Ighalo through who played a curling shot into the corner of the post.

The Burundian side, having come into the competition as debutants, had a very impressive game and were close to scoring first when Cedric Amissi got a clean chance on goal but Nigerian goal keeper, Daniel Akpeyi pulled a good save. Nigeria would go on to have more of the possession in the first half but would fail to create any clear-cut chance at goal. Burundi, however, were comfortable defending and hoping to break with counter-attacks.

The second half started rather promising for the Super Eagles as wingers Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze kept running through space and proving threatening. Coach Gernot Rohr of Nigeria, in a bid to chance the course of the game for that important goal, brought in Ahmed Musa for John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo for Paul Onuachu. Perhaps it was the spark of life the Super Eagles needed in attack. Ahmed Musa made a few dazzling runs into the Burundian defence, but the debutants seemed resolute in defence.

With loads of possession and attack for Nigeria, it was obvious they were hungrier for a goal. And the goal came in with some deftness and finesse. Right back, Ola Aina ran through from wide and with a timely, calculated back-heeled pass, he found striker Odion Ighalo who wasted no time to curl a sublime shot into the corner of the net. The long-awaited goal was the boost the Super Eagles needed against a very composed Burundian team.

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With that slim victory, the Super Eagles of Nigeria are top of Group B with 3 points, with Guinea and Madagascar set to play in the other game of the group.

About Emmanuel Ebimoh 461 Articles
Emmanuel Ebimoh is a Writer, Poet, Editor, and Football Enthusiast. He writes from Lagos, Nigeria. You can reach him on emmyebimoh@gmail.com

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