Five Things We Learnt From Super Eagles’ Victory over Sierra Leone

Five Things We Learnt From Super Eagles’ Victory over Sierra Leone
Credit: Iconsport

The Nigeria national football team, the Super Eagles, have officially booked their ticket to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations which will be held in the West African nation of Ivory Coast from 13 January 2024 – 11 February 2024.

They are one of 16 teams to have qualified for the tournament of 24 African teams and the second from their group. Their qualification was official after they defeated Sierra Leone in Liberia following a hard-fought game at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, Monrovia. We learnt a few things about the team from that game and here are five of them.

We have a new elite goalkeeper in Adebayo Adeleye

No disrespect to Francis Uzoho and Maduka Okoye before him, but Adebayo Adeleye has shown himself to be one worth more opportunities.

The 23-year-old is a debutant goalkeeper, having only been called up once in the past. The Hapoel Jerusalem goalkeeper only made it into the squad thanks to Francis Uzoho’s absence as José Peseiro has made it clear from his last few selections that the goalkeeper position is one of the places where he includes the statutory home-based players.

After his calm showing against the Leone Stars, who troubled the Eagles’ backline of Ken Omeruo, Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Zaidu Sanuso, he has shown that he can handle the pressure of being Nigeria s number 1. This could mean a shortening of Uzoho’s national team career and a total blockage of Okoye’s career, who is currently struggling to return to the team.

The Super Eagles cannot win AFCON with that defence

Semi Ajayi, Kenneth Omeruo, Zaidu Sanusi, Bright Osay-Samuel, Kevin Akpoguma, William Troost-Ekong and the many others who show great potential have continued to “fall our hands” as is said in Nigerian street lingo.

This is why the possible inclusion of Jordan Torunarigha in the AFCON 2023 squad is exciting. Peseiro may not want to use any new players but with the defensive performances that the Super Eagles have shown under him, a big change is needed.

Nigeria has truly lost the fear factor

Prior to the game, the Sierra Leone national team manager John Keister constantly mentioned how he is unafraid of Nigeria’s threat.

The Super Eagles have since lost our giant of Africa tag on the continental stage but they remain favourites in every tournament until they show otherwise. However, Keister’s men backed up their coach’s words by taking the game to Nigeria from the first blast of Mahmood Ismail’s whistle, with star power and experience helping the Nigerian team hold their own until Victor Osimhen struck.

Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone have shown what is possible in Group A of the qualifiers. The rest of Africa is definitely watching.

Super Eagles lack killer instinct

For a team that is blessed with some of the world’s best striker talent, the Nigeria national football team is abysmal in front of goal. They missed a number of gilt-edged chances to bury the game and Victor Osimhen was the only one providing enough threat to trouble the Sierra Leone goalkeeper. Peseiro has his work cut out for him as AFCON 2023 approaches because the Nigeria team is one that is capable of winning by big margins based on its sheer attacking talent.

Victor Osimhen is Africa’s best player

Move over Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, there is a new king in town and his name is Victor James Osimhen.

There has been no African player more impressive than he has in the last year and he has continued to show it even with the Super Eagles’ topsy-turvy form. He is now the outright top goalscorer in the AFCON 2023 qualifiers fixtures and is on course to win the CAF Player of the Year award.

It is a much-needed boost for the Super Eagles, whose fear factor has greatly reduced in recent years. Having a dominant player like Osimhen can help regain that confidence and Peseiro will be charged with building it to a fearsome level once again.

This article was most recently revised and updated 11 months ago

All-round lover of the beautiful game. Massive football fan, supported Arsenal for decades for reasons that are unexplainable. One day we will win the Champions League!