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AFCON Final: Reasons Behind Super’ Eagles Defeat Against Ivory Coast

The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to hosts Ivory Coast in a heartbreaking defeat, ending their AFCON 2023 trophy dreams at the Stade Alassane Ouattara on Sunday.

The Nigerian national team, led by Coach Jose Peseiro, was the favourite to win this year’s AFCON tournament after the elimination of other big African teams such as Senegal, Egypt, and Cameroon.

The Super Eagles captain, William Troost-Ekong, opened the scoring with a brilliant header in the first half. However, Frank Kessie’s header canceled the goal in the 62nd minute.

At the same time, the Dortmund striker Sebastian Haller who recently won a battle with cancer scored the winner in the 81st minute. This marks the end of the Super Eagles hope to clinch their fourth AFCON title.

The team has won only 3 titles out of 8 finals they have reached. It has been a shocking result for Nigerian national team fans, many of whom have expressed disappointment in the results.

Here are reasons behind Super Eagles’ defeat against Ivory Coast in AFCON final

Defensive Vulnerabilities:


The defensive weaknesses of the Super Eagles, which were evident in the semi-finals against Bafana Bafana, reappeared when facing the Ivorian team.

In the first 45 minutes of the game, Nigeria allowed nine shots on goal. Regrettably, they failed to rectify this issue in the second half, as the Ivorian team managed to unleash another nine shots.

As a consequence of what seemed to be subpar defending, Nigeria conceded two goals during the match.

Factors

Lack of Organization: The Super Eagles might have struggled with organizing their defense effectively, leaving gaps or failing to mark opposing players tightly.

Set Piece Weakness: Ivory Coast could have capitalized on set pieces, exploiting any weaknesses the Super Eagles had in defending corners, free kicks, or throw-ins.

Individual Errors: Defensive players might have made individual mistakes, such as mistimed tackles, poor positioning, or errors in judgment, leading to goals conceded.

Tactical Errors:

The coach implemented two alterations to the squad that overcame South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in the semi-finals, substituting Bright-Osayi Samuel and Moses Simon with Zaidu Sanusi and forward Samuel Chukwueze.

Although these changes seemed customary to most, certain fans and analysts cautioned that they might disturb the Super Eagles’ ongoing success. Both Simon and Bright-Osayi delivered commendable performances in the semi-finals, aiding Nigeria’s progression to the final.

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However, upon the Ivorians seizing the lead, the Portuguese coach acknowledged his mistake and promptly replaced both players.

Factors

Wrong Formations: The coaching staff might have chosen formations that were ineffective against Ivory Coast’s style of play, leaving the team vulnerable in certain areas of the pitch.

Suboptimal Player Selection: If key players were left out of the starting lineup or substitutions were made too late or without addressing key weaknesses, it could have weakened the team’s performance.

Failure to Adapt: Inability to adapt to changes in Ivory Coast’s tactics or game flow during the match could have led to the Super Eagles being outmaneuvered or exploited in certain areas of the pitch.

Lack of Cohesion:

Limited Chemistry: The team might have lacked sufficient time to develop cohesion and understanding among players due to recent changes in the squad or limited training time.

Ineffective Communication: Poor communication on the field can lead to misunderstandings, misplaced passes, or defensive lapses, hindering the team’s ability to maintain possession and create scoring opportunities.

Tactical Disunity: If players failed to execute the coach’s tactical instructions cohesively, it could result in disjointed play and vulnerability to counterattacks.

Individual Mistakes:

Missed Opportunities: Strikers failing to convert clear goal-scoring opportunities or midfielders squandering possession in crucial moments could have cost the Super Eagles valuable chances to score.

Defensive Lapses: Individual defensive errors, such as mistimed tackles, poor clearances, or misjudgments in aerial duels, might have directly led to goals conceded.

Disciplinary Issues: Red cards or frequent fouls committed by individual players can disrupt the team’s rhythm, force tactical adjustments, and potentially leave the team vulnerable to counterattacks or set pieces.

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