Nigeria’s 1-0 victory over the Squirrels of Benin in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Porto-Novo may have sealed qualification for the team, however, there are some major highlights that made the game worthwhile.
Completesports Correspondent, Augustine Akhilomen highlights five major talking points of the game.
Denting Benin’s Unbeaten Home Record
The last time Benin lost at home was in 2013, against the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier. No doubt, it was an enviable record to boast of by the West Africans team before it was shattered by the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Saturday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
It took a spirited Super Eagles to ensure that the record was broken with the last gasp winner by Paul Onuachu to seal Nigeria’s qualification to the bi-annual tournament in Cameroon.
Blackout At Super Eagles Training
Prior to Saturday’s victory, Benin thought the only way they could do to disorganize the Super Eagles training was by switching off the light at the Stadium. However, the three-time AFCON champions showed why they are determined and hungry to amend their ‘porous’ performance against Sierra Leone, as they trained without the floodlight switched on and still got the maximum point on matchday proper.
Rohr’s Line Up And Tactics Spot On
Many football pundits have often faulted Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr’s tactical and technical capability to truly bring out the best in the array of talents at his disposal. However, Saturday’s game saw the German tactician present a strong or ‘killer’ lineup that could defeat any team in the world. This was also well accompanied by an impressive tactical approach that saw the team pressed their opponent (Benin) so hard with the likes of Willian Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi showing great attacking instinct and very productive with the ball.
Onuachu Becoming The Hero
Initially listed as a standby when the list of players was first released by Rohr despite his free-goal scoring form for Genk in the Belgian League. But injuries and withdrawal of some players gave him the chance to once again prove his mettle as he grabbed the solitary goal against Benin to end the host’s unbeaten home record.
Unuachu came on as a substitute for Kelechi Iheanacho in the 71st minute and instantly gave a good account of himself by showing his aerial strength with a powerful header that rocked the net of the Beninious. It was indeed a perfect way to say thank you to the coach for at least showing faith in him.
Iwuala, Super Eagles New Rising Star
The Enyimba star may have caught the eyes of many football fans with his impressive performance against Benin even though he could have done better with some quick or final pass to his fellow teammate in the 18-yard box. There was a point where Victor Osimhen yelled at him for not passing to him when he was in a goal-scoring position but Iwuala went for glory and failed to hit the back of the net.
The desperation to impress the national team handlers may have contributed to it but in all, he was a sensation that could be a future star for the Super Eagles if well integrated into the team.
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