Nigeria 3-1 Sudan: Simon superb, Okoye iffy – Super Eagles Player Ratings

January 15th 2022, 7:48:16 pm

The Super Eagles consolidated their opening day win to secure passage to the next round.

Moses Simon was the game's standout player as Nigeria ran out comfortable winners against Sudan (Photo by Imago/Shengolpixs/Tobi Adepoju)

Nigeria booked a place in the Round of 16 with a comfortable win over Sudan on Saturday evening.

Goals from Samuel Chukwueze, Taiwo Awoniyi and Moses Simon carried the three-time African champions to victory over the Falcons of Jediane. A second-half penalty for the east African side would only serve as a consolation.

The performances on the day are rated here, on a scale of 1-10.

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The 22-year-old was largely untroubled, but produced a somewhat shaky second half. Two handling errors ultimately came to nothing, but it recalled some of the concerns around his more improvisatory, laid-back approach to the role. It can look effortless at its best, but at its worst, there are mistakes waiting around the corner. This game was an unwelcome reminder of that possibility.

It is a shame about the penalty concession, which obscures what was a strong performance from Aina. He was alert to danger, making a number of timely interceptions to arrest the opponent’s momentum, and also did a sterling, fearless job carrying the ball past pressure and up the pitch time and again. His technical ability and touch also stood out on a number of occasions. Super performance.

It was a much-improved performance from the Watford man. Positionally, he was secure; in the tackle, he was strong. Got bypassed on one notable occasion and was caught a little too tight on another, but overall a solid display from the captain. Played a couple of incisive passes into the half-space and out to the wing to bypass pressure.

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Did well in terms of active defending, but for some reason his usual impeccability positionally was more variable than usual. He also found there was a much smaller margin for error in terms of playing out to the flank. Still, he produced some strong blocks and clearances, and assumed a more risk-averse style as the game progressed, which was exactly what was required.

This was a difficult performance to parse from the Porto man. Defensively, he was extremely conscientious, covering for Omeruo on a few occasions, and he showed himself an impassable barrier in direct confrontations. However, his work in possession was quite poor: hurried and imprecise in execution. Thankfully, his give-aways were rarely in truly terminal areas, and his overlap did play a role in the third goal, so he emerges with credit.

We like to think that he is something more, but Ndidi is only human. Had to cover far too much ground in the earlier periods of the match, and predictably got bypassed on a couple of occasions. He just seemed less powerful for some reason, and miscontrolled the ball once too often. However, as the game went on, the old Ndidi arose, and in the second half he was sumptuous, both on the ball (with some smooth carrying and drops of the shoulder) and in snuffing out danger. Strong performance.

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If the Rangers man had not been absent as a factor for the opening 15 minutes of this game, he would have managed a much higher rating. Started the encounter giving the ball away with spotty passing and weak touches, and left his midfield partner out to dry. Then it was as though a switch had been flicked. Suddenly, Aribo was winning tackles, intercepting, carrying the ball into the final third and being a real menace. A bravura recovery. Was taken off as he began to flag.

A surprisingly low rating for a player who scored, but it is arguably an earned one. Chukwueze was as much a problem for his own full-back as for the opposition’s, constantly ignoring overlaps, losing the ball and exposing the team defensively. His style can be a hard sell, but when it is effective, the concerns are easier to overlook. Here, the trade-off was simply not worth it. It was not for nothing he was hooked at half-time.

Unplayable. This has been the tournament of Simon. The Nantes man got the well-crafted and taken goal he deserved just after the break, but by that point he had run the Sudan backline ragged already. Assisted the first with a composed lay-off. Simon led his markers a merry dance, chased and harried out of possession, and set up shooting opportunities for others. With the wing closed off, he showed his unpredictability by attacking on the inside and wreaking havoc still. Outstanding performance.

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The Leicester man was not as influential as he might have liked on the ball, but he more than made up for it with willing work when out of possession. Iheanacho was excellent at pressing backward passes and forcing long clearances, and also played a connecting role in the attack, dropping off the front a little more than he did against Egypt in order to facilitate play.

It does not matter how they go in, as they all count. Awoniyi will have been mightily pleased to finally get on the board in senior international football. That said, he did miss two other really good chances, passed up another opening with a fresh air shot, and snatched at a couple of other opportunities. His weakness in combinative play was also shown up as the game wore on. Still though, he did play an understated role in the game’s third, levering the defender out of the way.

Brought on at half time, the Everton man immediately helped stabilise the flow of the game, making smart decisions in possession and combining better with Aina to allow the full-back get forward. Put himself about a lot more as well, and set up a good shooting opportunity with a clever slide rule pass.

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He was a bit of an odd change to replace Iheanacho, but Musa did well in terms of helping the team retain possession, as he was happy to come deep and turn on the ball, before speeding forward and trying to combine with one-twos. Sadly, his strike partner was hardly on the same wavelength.

Unlike the game against Egypt, he understood the assignment. Did a fine job sitting alongside Ndidi and circulating the ball, keeping things simple and on an even keel. Showed invention with a clever reverse pass, and seemed to link well with Iwobi. Could have shown a bit more aggression without the ball in one or two instances, but overall a good cameo.

Replaced Awoniyi and was quite out-of-sorts. Overran a presentable opportunity and seemed to lack power.


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