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AFCON 2023: Equatorial Guinea add to Nigerian disappointment in scrappy Group A draw

Nigeria were eager to kick off their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations campaign with a victory on Sunday but a determined Equatorial Guinea team held the Super Eagles to a 1-1 draw in Abidjan. Reigning African Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen equalized for Nigeria soon after Ivan Salvador Édu opened the scoring towards the end of the first half for the Nzalang Nacional but it was yet another frustrating outing for the Super Eagles ahead of an anticipated duel with hosts Ivory Coast on Thursday. A highly prized point boosts the confidence of Equatorial Guinea who next face Guinea-Bissau on the back of an eleven-match unbeaten run.

Low on confidence after disappointing results from the past year, Nigeria made an encouraging start. In the tenth minute a cross from Super Eagles midfielder Alhassan Yusuf found attacking left back Zaidu Sanusi at the far post but the FC Porto player fired off target after Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Jesús Owono missed his attempt to claim the cross.

The excitement of the opening ten minutes gave way to a sleepy stretch as the teams adjusted to the hot conditions in Abidjan. However the match woke up towards the end of the half when Equatorial Guinea opened the scoring in the 37th minute through Ivan Salvador Édu who produced a calm low finish from a pass by José Machín after Nigeria missed an opportunity to clear the ball outside their penalty area. The joy was short-lived for the Nzalang Nacional after Nigeria equalized instantly through star Osimhen who rose up to head in at the far post from a floated Ademola Lookman cross.

Nigeria controlled the early stages of the second half and it was only excellent shot stopping from Owono that maintained parity in the match. The Alavés keeper denied Nigeria winger Moses Simon just before halftime and then came up with two important saves in the opening ten minutes after the break from efforts by Zaidu and Osimhen. Despite being the more threatening team it was a frustrating outing from Nigeria who made a push for the winner in the final minutes but could not find a way past the Equatoguinean wall in front of Owono’s goal, including an excellent chance in the 76th minute for Osimhen after a brilliant pass from Alex Iwobi put him behind the defense with only Owono to beat.

Highlights from the match are below.

Match Highlights

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