Nigeria got their AFCON2019 off to an unconvincing start after a hard-fought 1-0 win over debutants Burundi on Saturday. Here is how we assess the individual performance of the Super Eagles players…
Daniel Akpeyi, 5
As usual, Akpeyi was his shaky self and bar a wonderful save in the first half he was anything but convincing in between the posts, and had a bizarre moment when in the first half when he made a mess of a Kenneth Omeruo back pass.
Shehu Abdullahi, 4
Went off injured and didn’t play do enough in the time he was on the pitch.
William Troost-Ekong, 7
A very good performance from Troost-Ekong, who formed a good partnership with Kenneth Omeruo. He passed out well from the back, helping Nigerian dominate the game.
Kenneth Omeruo, 7
While his defensive partner (Troost-Ekong) was saddled with the ball playing duties, Omerou was mopping up, completing the most tackles and win in the most aerial duels.
Ola Aina, 9
Arguably the best Nigerian on the pitch, the Torino man put in an assured performance at left back and Collins Jamilu, who missed the game due to an illness, should be worried.
Aina was brilliant on and off the ball as he combined his defensive duty with solid offensive overlaps. Timing his overlapping runs to perfection, the 22-year-old looked at home at left back.
He created the most chances three (3) one of which ended up as that wonderful backheel assist for the winner.
Wilfred Ndidi, 7
Ndidi kept things easy in what seemed like a box to box role in Nigeria’s midfield two.
While not a vintage display, he completed 100% of his take-on, and didn’t forget his defensive duty with two interceptions and one tackle won.
Oghenekaro Etebo, 7
Like his midfield partner, Ndidi, Etebo was in control and made sure Nigeria dominated on the ball as he dictated proceedings very well.
His accurate passing ensured the Super Eagles kept the ball well and it was no surprise he completed the most passes while creating two scoring opportunities.
John Obi Mikel, 4
Handed a central attacking role, Mikel was really poor in his performance as he failed to link up the midfield and attack.
He was hardly involved in the game and this led to a toothless performance in the attack. He also missed a very big chance to put Nigeria ahead but missed a free header in the first half.
Samuel Chukwueze, 4
Chukwueze was full of running, showing his immense potential with some wonderful mazy runs.
However, for all the tricks, which saw him complete the most take-off (7), he failed to really play with his teammates and largely preferred to do it alone.
Alex Iwobi, 6
Iwobi started slowly but only got into the game in the second half when he was moved centrally with Ahmed Musa introduced for the captain, Mikel.
Playing in the hole, he provided that link between the midfield and attack which was lacking as made himself available with greater mobility and thrust.
Paul Onuachu, 5
Onuachu cut an isolated figure for the most part, and didn’t really make the Burundi defenders work as he failed to make runs in behind them.
Ahmed Musa, 6
A surprise substitute, his introduction injected a needed pace to the game and changed the dynamics of the game for the Super Eagles.
Unlike Chukwueze, Musa tried to play with his teammates and made some dangerous runs from the left but his final balls could have been better.
Chidozie Awaziem, 5
He replaced the injured Abdullahi and right from his first action, he kept giving away cheap fouls in a very dangerous area. We know he is a centre back, but he gave away three of such fouls but later settled in at the right back.
Odion Ighalo, 7
Ighalo came on and showed Onuachu how it is done. Within two minutes of coming on, Ighalo’s movement almost led to a great chance but his poor first touch let him.
Moments later, he made amends and he latched on to a brilliant Aina pass after another excellent positioning in the box to superbly slot home the winner.