Equatorial Guinea held tournament favourites Nigeria 1-1 in Sunday’s Group A game at the ongoing AFCON 2023.
The star-studded Super Eagles side with reigning African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen could not show why they are the favourite for the tournament.
The three- time champions adopted the slogan ; Let’s Do It Again and started the game brilliantly but allowed Equatorial Guinea to take possession.
Equatorial Guinea took the lead against the run of play thanks to a well-worked goal from Iban Salvador, but the lead lasted just two minutes as Osimhen, a striker for Napoli, headed Nigeria level.
Despite a first-half equaliser from Victor Osimhen, wasteful Nigeria were held to a 1-1 draw.
When a cross from the right eluded everyone and landed nicely to Nigeria’s Zaidu at the back post, he skied his shot high and wide with the goal gaping.
Salvador’s excellent finish on minute 36 gave Equatorial Guinea the lead.
After some clumsy defending caused Nigeria to fail to clear the ball, Salvador finished clinically with a side-footed effort into the bottom corner after Jose Machin set him up 18 yards from goal.
However, the lead was only maintained for two minutes as Nigeria quickly responded.
Ademola Lookman, a winger, curled a cross from the left to the back post, and Osimhen scored his 21st goal for his country with the easiest of header finishes.
As the teams went into halftime, tied at one goal apiece, Moses Simon then forced a wonderful low save from Equatorial Guinea custodian Jesus Owono when his shot appeared headed for the bottom corner.
After that, the west African team had the better of the chances, but Jesus Owono, the custodian for Equatorial Guinea, was in excellent form and combined some poor finishing with many superb saves.
Next up for Nigeria is a potentially significant pool match against hosts Ivory Coast on Thursday. Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea will take on Guinea-Bissau, who fell to the Ivorians 2-0 in the tournament’s opening match on Saturday.
The game started slowly but picked up steam towards the conclusion of the first half when two goals in as many minutes were scored.
Early in the second half, Zaidu had another fantastic opportunity for Nigeria, but he shot straight at the custodian, and Osimhen’s head was blocked by the Alaves gloveman.
For the Super Eagles, who have recently been subjected to harsh criticism following their 1-1 draws in the World Cup qualifying matches in November with small Lesotho and Zimbabwe, it will be seen as a loss of two points.