Super Eagles beat Guinea-Bissau 1-0 in the last match of a Group A tie in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to qualify for the round of 16.
Jose Peseiro’s men went into the match with much-needed confidence after beating host Ivory Coast courtesy of a well-taken penalty from skipper William Troost-Ekong
The Portuguese fielded a lineup that saw Kenneth Omeruo coming in for Ekong to captain the Nigerian side as well as Joe Aribo replacing Everton’s Alex Iwobi, while Alhassan Yusuf was still sidelined with an injury.
Guinea-Bissau claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at the MKO Abiola Stadium on game week four of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series and were hoping for a repeat.
But striker Victor Osimhen made Nigeria’s intentions known as early as the 5th minute of the match. However, his shot went off the mark, barely troubling the opposition goalkeeper.
Despite early pressure from the Super Eagles, the Wild Dogs kept their composure and grew into the match as Nito tried his luck from a distance. But Stanley Nwabali would make a comfortable save.
A point would be enough for Nigeria to go through but Guinea-Bissau were keen on denying them such an opportunity, taking the lion’s share of the possession in the early exchanges.
The Wild Dogs gave the Nigerian defence some trouble as Dalcio Gomes was not far away from getting on the end of an overhead ball that beat Omeruo.
However, Nigeria would get a fortuitous break in the 37th minute as Opa Sangante smashed Moses Simon’s cross into his net while trying to stop Osimhen waiting behind him for a tap-in.
Osimhen would have a chance to double Nigeria’s lead in the latter stages of the first half but he couldn’t quite make contact with Simon’s cross.
The second half resumed with Simon missing a glorious chance to make it two as Mendes stretched out an arm to claim the ball.
As the game wore on, Osimhen felt he had gotten his goal in the 62nd minute but the VAR would rule him offside.
In search of a second goal, Peseiro rung some changes, bringing in Alex Iwobi came in for Joe Aribo. The substitute was immediately in the thick of the action but shot wide – at the edge of the box – from an inviting Simon’s cross.
Nigeria finished runners-up in Group A with seven points after Equatorial Guinea bashed hosts Cote D’Ivoire 4-0. The Central Africans topped the lot on better goal difference.
Franculino Dju had a goal ruled out at the other end for Guinea-Bissau, who were already eliminated before this game and finish with three defeats.
Shock winners away to Nigeria in qualifying last March, they have still never won a game in 12 attempts across four appearances at the Cup of Nations itself.
The team will now stay in Abidjan for a last-16 tie on Saturday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium against the runners-up in Group C, which will be Senegal, Guinea or Cameroon (Channels)