The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 qualifiers campaign resumed on Thursday, June 9, 2022. African countries faced off against one another in what proved to be a thrilling round of fixtures in the world of football.
Let’s do a quick analysis of the matches that were played on Thursday;
1. Nigeria (2) vs Sierra Leone (1)
The first AFCON 2023 qualifiers under Super Eagles of Nigeria’s new head coach, Jose Peserio resulted in a hard-fought victory for the team. Two assists from the Nantes winger, Moses Simon, and a goal each from Victor Osimhen, and Alex Iwobi helped them secure a vital win over Sierra Leone.
Jonathan Morsay put Sierra Leone ahead just 11 minutes into the game. Alex Iwobi leveled the tie in the 16th minute with Moses Simon assisting him. Just before the end of the first half, Moses Simon provided his second assist of the game, which saw Osimhen score what later turned out to be the decisive winner in the game. Samuel Chukwueze had a chance to extend Nigeria’s lead, but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. The match finished 2-1 in favor of Nigeria at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja.
2. Guinea Bissau (5) vs Sao Tome and Principle (1)
This match proved to be a disaster for Sao Tome and Principle as they could not get a hold of their opponents in both halves of the match.
Four goals in the second half of the match from Guinea Bissau took Sao Tome and Principle to the bottom of the group with a negative goal difference of -4. Guinea Bissau registered nine shots on target compared to Sao Tome and Principle’s one shot on target.
No doubt, Guinea Bissau did not spare them as the match was the highest-scoring match for this week in the AFCON qualifiers. Sao Tome and Principle will now be hoping for a win in their next matches to stand a chance of qualifying for AFCON in 2023.
3. Guinea (1) – Malawi (0)
A Naby Keita late winner was all that Guinea needed to secure all three points. A tightly contested match between the two countries saw the first half finished goalless. Although Guinea controlled possession for most of the match, they were still not able to break the deadlock. The tough battle between these two countries continued into the second half until stoppage time when Naby Keita right footed shot found the top left corner of the Malawi goalkeeper’s net.
The win for Guinea now means that every country in the group has now amassed three points from two games, with goal difference only separating them from one another.
4. Burundi (0) – Cameroon (1) –
The Indomitable Lions started their campaign brilliantly with a slim win over Burundi.
Their reputable striker, Karl Toko Ekambi came to their rescue once again as he scored the only goal of the match.
The goal came in the 30th minute; Victor Aboubakar was fouled very close to the edge of the box, a freekick was awarded to Cameroon and Karl Toko Ekambi curled in a glorious strike.
The Cameroonians were so close to scoring another after Vincent hit the outside of the post just towards the end of the first half.
This win meant that they claimed their three points in this round of fixtures in Group C.
5. Ethiopia (2) – Egypt (0) –
Egypt were in action against Ethiopia on Thursday without their king, Mohammed Salah and this proved to be very difficult for them in the game.
Earlier before kickoff, Abate said “Salah’s injury takes nothing away from Egypt”, but this proved to be a different ball game as they struggled throughout the match. Ethiopia opened the scoring in the 21st minute after Dawa Hotessa slotted the ball past the Egypt goalkeeper.
The Pharaohs seemed so open at the back, as they yet concede another goal in the 39th minute from Shimelis Bekele after a dazzling solo run from Amanuel Gebremichael.
Ethiopia now leads the group with a positive difference of +1 while Egypt are now at the bottom of the group with a negative difference of -1.