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Tunisia 1-0 Nigeria: Slothful Iheanacho, dozy Okoye – Super Eagles Player Ratings

January 23rd 2022, 10:46:26 pm

The Super Eagles AFCON campaign ended in defeat on Sunday

Nigeria laboured against Tunisia and had no answers on the night (Photo by Imago/Shengolpixs/Tobi Adepoju)

Nigeria’s participation at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is at an end following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tunisia.

Austin Eguavoen’s side were a shadow of the swashbuckling team that swept nine points from nine in the Group Stage, and were eliminated by a long-range strike from Youssef Msakni in the 47th minute.

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

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The Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper again did not have a lot to do, but whiffed quite badly for the winner. Granted there was some swerve on it, but it was not so dramatic as to have thrown him off completely, especially coming from such a distance. He has had worrying little moments right the way through the competition, and there was always the sense there was a mistake in him. That premonition has now been fulfilled.

Aina was one of the rare bright spots. Defended with strength and intelligence, intercepting the ball adeptly, and showed great composure in possession. Carried the ball forward well to boot. Might have gotten tighter to Msakni for the goal, but did at least hold him up. Beyond that, he was excellent.

It was actually one of the stronger performances of the tournament from the Watford man. Still a little too keen to go long with possession, but he largely was accurate in his distribution over long distances. Stepped in well to cover for his centre-back partner whenever he got dragged out of position.

Endured a torrid game, but it was not entirely of his own making. Omeruo misjudged his stepping out from the back on a number of occasions, missed a clearance and was imprecise with his long-range distribution. Should have done more to close down Msakni for his shot.

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The Porto man once again showed himself a solid defender. However, this was not what the game required. With his winger Moses Simon having severe challenges getting past multiple direct opponents, Zaidu could have offered overlaps to draw attention away or provide combination options. On the few occasions he did get forward, he seemed keen to take someone’s head off rather than find an accurate cross.

A day when the Leicester man’s limitations on the ball were exposed. His inability to dictate from deep or create better passing angles was shown up. Against the ball, he was his usual assertive self, and did his level best, but with Tunisia overloading that zone, it was easy for them to access space behind him and progress. Absolutely needed to win that tackle with Msakni, but got sidestepped far too easily instead.

The Rangers man found it much tougher going today against a very well organised Tunisian defence. Unable to get into those pockets of space he likes, and really only able to execute simple passes. Did put in a shift physically and did well on a number of occasions to retain the ball under pressure.

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He actually started the game well, did Chukwueze: working hard without the ball and combining well with Kelechi Iheanacho. However, that soon faded away, and he became increasingly pedestrian. Neither offered enterprise with the ball nor took up good positions inside when the situation warranted it. Really does not seem to have recovered his best form, and actually looks less fluid and slow in his decision-making.

Nigeria’s livewire was shackled very handily by Tunisia on the night. In fairness to him, he tried. However, he found both paths – to the inside and the outside – blocked, and there was no one offering him combination options as an alternative. Got a little more joy later on in the game when more mobile forwards were introduced, as he was able to play wall passes and access central spaces, but it was for nought in the end.

A deeply disappointing performance for Iheanacho here. Exerted no influence on the team’s attack, and his second touch, usually his strong suit, was surprisingly lax. Also took too long to make decisions in a crowded Tunisia penalty area, which was precisely what was not required. Compounded it all with a needless booking that meant he had to come up as the intensity of the game ramped up.

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Awoniyi is a heavily limited striker, so on nights like this when he gets nothing, you can expect exactly nothing. His lack of real skill in possession limited Nigeria’s movement options and meant the avenues of attack could not be varied. Against massed defensive ranks, it is important to have a striker that can play quick combinations. That is simply not Awoniyi is about.

Alex Iwobi: N/A

Was on for too short a duration to merit a fair assessment.

He is neither fish nor fowl, to be honest, and ultimately Nigeria wasted precious time sending him on in place of Awoniyi instead of sending on Umar Sadiq. Not a bad player, but what does he actually do? exactly.

Sadiq was a real bright spot upon entry. The Almeria man offered movement in behind, but also came wide to support the winger and carried the ball past challenges and into the box. Missed a really good chance (although, to be fair, the Tunisia goalkeeper stood up and narrowed the angle really well), probably Nigeria’s best, else his rating would have been higher

Ahmed Musa: N/A


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