Kenneth Omeruo’s 73rd minute was the only goal of the game as Nigeria beat Guinea 1-0 to go through to the second round of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2019 in Egypt.
The centre back ghosted behind Ibrahima Traore before producing a determined leap, matched by a bullet header to Daddy Moses Simon’s out-swinging corner to give Nigeria maximum points and clean sheet for the second game in a row.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr made five changes to the team that edged Burundi 1-0 on Saturday but Omeruo retained his starting berth after an impressive season in Europe. Simon, the assist provider was also preferred to young Samuel Chukwueze while team captain Mikel Obi was dropped to the bench.
While the Guineans were reduced to hopeful long range efforts in the first half – attempts which were half-heartedly dealt with by goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi -, the Nigerians should really have scored after the half hour mark but Odion Ighalo hit his effort to the side net with Ahmed Musa available for an easy tap-in.
It was a battle of attrition in the midfield between Nigerian pair of Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi against Guinea’s Naby Keita who succumbed to a niggling injury just two minutes before Nigeria’s goal in the 73rd minute.
Alex Iwobi, who had a game of “rice and stones” for 78 minutes brought out the best in Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone on the hour mark, but the Pau FC star could do nothing to prevent Omeruo’s forceful header seventeen minutes from time.
FT: Nigeria 1-0 Guinea
Nigeria are the first team to advance to the knockout stage of this tournament. Kenneth Omeruo's header the difference in this West African derby. #YourSportsMemo #NGAGUI #AFCON2019 pic.twitter.com/Szz0C7oNm3
— ACLSports (@acl_sports) June 26, 2019
Akpeyi, manning the post for Nigeria for a second game in succession had nothing out of the ordinary to do throughout the duration of the contest while Nigeria’s full backs; Chidozie Awaziem and Ola Aina were largely unruffled.
Nigeria, by the virtue of the win have now qualified for the second round of the 24-team tournament with a game to spare and will face Madagascar in their final group game at the same Alexandria Stadium on Sunday evening.
Guinea, meanwhile have all to play for when they face Burundi in their final group game at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo same day. They have one point from their opening two games.
Nigeria team vs Guinea:
Akpeyi; Awaziem, Balogun, Omeruo, Ola Aina; Etebo, Ndidi, Iwobi (Chukwueze 78′); Moses Simon (S. Kalu 92′), Ahmed Musa, Ighalo (Onuachu 88′)