The Super Eagles had in a test game beaten a local Dubai side 12-0 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with Ademola Lookman scoring four goals, while Victor Osimhen, Umar Sadiq, and Moses Simon each bagging a brace and two own goals from the opposition.
The big win was supposed to serve as a morale booster for the Super Eagles in their second test game against the Syli National of Guinea at the Bani Yas Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday, however, the Eagles lost 2-0 in a game characterised by poor finishing from the team.
FT. NGA 0-2 GUI
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Coming up against a much better opposition on the day, Jose Peseiro's men kept the tempo high early on despite a much changed starting eleven from the game on Sunday.
Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey, Francis Uzoho, Ola Aina, Frank Onyeka, and Ahmed Musa were all left out from the lineup against Guinea, a decision which surely tilted the advantage to the opposition.
After going a goal down as early as the 14th minute, Moses Simon could have restored parity for Nigeria from the penalty spot in the 20th minute but the Nantes player failed to convert his effort with the Guineans going on to score once more in the second half to beat Nigeria 2-0.
Here are three things we learnt from the Super Eagles loss to the Syli National of Guinea.
Victor Boniface's fitness is a concern for the Super Eagles
Boniface who is set to make his first major tournament appearance for Nigeria, is said to be struggling with an apparent knock which he got from training.
After being left out in the team's first test game on Sunday, the Leverkusen marksman was again not included in the team which took on Guinea.
According to reports, Boniface is battling to be fit ahead of the AFCON after struggling to pass fitness tests.
The situation with the in-form striker is becoming a major concern for Nigerians and the team in particular who need his services as the Super Eagles try to navigate their way through in Group A.
Super Eagles have to be efficient in front of the goal
With days left to AFCON 2023 where the Eagles will meet good teams, Peseiro needs to rally his troops on the need of converting their chances.
The Super Eagles played well against Guinea but lacked proper cutting edge in the final third. The team's failure to utilize set piece opportunities should be looked at and corrected if they're to properly compete in Ivory Coast.
The Super Eagles have a problem in midfield and defense.
The team as it is, lacks good midfielders which is one of the major concerns for the Super Eagles for some years now.
In the tournament proper, coach Peseiro will have a tough task in assembling a midfield that can hold their own against the big teams.
The trio of Chidozie Awaziem, Yusuf Alhassan, and Raphael Onyedika failed to properly connect with the forwards and also shield the defense line when it mattered most.
It is commonly said that good forwards win you games, but a good defense wins you titles. For the Super Eagles, the defense line and midfield today were poor with not so much to expect from them when the AFCON begins.
Super Eagles confirmed lineup against Guinea
Stanley Nwabali (GK); Bright Osayi-Samuel, Zaidu Sanusi, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Yusuf Alhassan, Raphael Onyedika, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Sadiq Umar.
Where do the Super Eagles go from here?
Coach Jose Peseiro and his troops will on Tuesday arrive in Lagos, Nigeria where the team will stay before jetting off to Ivory Coast on Wednesday.
The AFCON 2023 tournament will kick-off next Saturday with the opening game between hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau.
The Super Eagles will begin their Group A campaign on Sunday, 14 January against Equatorial Guinea at the iconic Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan.
This article was most recently revised and updated 2 months ago