Ranking: Super Eagles best AFCON defensive displays – Top 5

Ranking: Super Eagles best AFCON defensive displays – Top 5
Credit @vilfortpark X

Super Eagles fans have started regaining confidence in the national side following their 1-0 victory over the hosts, the Elephants of Ivory Coast.

The win moves Nigeria to second in the Group A table, with Equatorial Guinea top following their 4-2 win over Guinea Bissau.

The fans are gushing over the display of the Super Eagles against Ivory Coast. Jose Peseiro promised a compact side, and that was what they produced.

Following the top-tier defensive display by the Super Eagles, with the captain William Troost Ekong, Ola Aina, Calvin Bassey, Stanley Nwabali and Frank Onyeka at the heart of it all, t raises the question, what are the best Super Eagles top five defensive performances at AFCON?

Here are our top five best defensive performances by any Nigerian national side at AFCON.

Super Eagles top five AFCON defensive performance

The Super Eagles have always resorted to defending solidly when their attack is not top-tier, and this will be noticed in their performances when they are not among the top teams in Africa.

5 – Nigeria 1-1 Algeria (9-8 pens) – AFCON 1988)

Peter Rufai saved a penalty for the Super Eagles against Algeria in 1988
Photo by Icon Sport

Following their absence in the 1986 AFCON, Nigeria looked to discover its mojo again.

Against the Fennec Foxes of Algeria, who had wowed the world at the 1986 World Cup, the Super Eagles were the underdogs.

They took the lead in the first half through an own-goal and defended solidly till the 86th minute before conceding from a corner kick.

The sending-off of Ademola Adeshina in the 84th minute did not help matters.

The team had Peter Rufai, Augustine Eguavoen, Sunday Eboigbe, Bright Omokaro, Rashidi Yekini and Samuel Okwaraji and won the game on penalties.

4 – Nigeria 2-1 Ivory Coast – AFCON 2013

Mikel Obi silenced Drogba for the Super Eagles in AFCON 2013
Photo by Icon Sport

Whenever Nigeria plays Ivory Coast, it is always feisty. The two sides have a long history.

The Super Eagles came into this tie as underdogs. They had failed to qualify for AFCON 2012 and were up against the might of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Gervinhoo and Emmanuel Eboué.

The star-studded Ivorian side were limited to half chances against several rookies like Godfrey Oboabona and Sunday Mba.

Despite conceding an early second-half equalizer, they maintained a tight shift at the back.

They went on to win AFCON 2013.

3 – Nigeria 0-0 Zambia (5-4 pens) – AFCON 2010

vincent Enyeama in goal for the Super Eagles
Photo by Icon Sport

It is rare to see a Super Eagles side being inferior to the Chipolopolo of Zambia, but it happened when they locked horns in the quarter-finals of AFCON 2010.

Led by Herve Renard, Zambia peppered the Super Eagles defence with several attacks.

The Nigerian side comprised players on their last legs, but desperate defending and a couple of off-the-line clearances with top Enyeama saves ensured the Chipolopolo did not score that day.

Nigeria finished the game with ten men after the late sending-off of Apam Onyekachi but managed to keep a clean sheet against the Zambians.

2 – Nigeria 1-0 Egypt – AFCON 1990

Clemens Westerhof designed a defensive formation for the Super Eagles in 1990
fPhoto by Icon Sport

The Super Eagles arrived at AFCON 1990 with a new coach, Dutchman Clemens Westerhof.

After the disappointment of the foreign-based players not coming, he selected a home-based side.

The home-based players included Alloy Agu, Uche Okechukwu, Aminu Abdul, Herbert Anijekwu, Ben Iroha, Friday Elahor, Moses Kpakor, Isaac Semitoje and the elder brother of Jay-Jay Okocha-Emma.

After losing their first game to the hosts Algeria 5-1, they desperately needed a win.

Against a more fancied Pharaohs of Egypt, Rashidi Yekini scored in the eighth minute, and the Nigerian side held on tenaciously for the rest of the game.

1 – Nigeria 1-0 Ivory Coast – AFCON 1990

The best defensive performance by the Super Eagles at AFCON
Credit @NGSuperEagles X

To date, this is the finest display of defensive tenacity by the Super Eagles.

It was Westerhof's third match in the first of his three AFCON duties in charge.

It was the last group game for Nigeria, and they needed a win to qualify.

Rashidi Yekini scored in the third minute, and the Nigerian side put up one of the best defensive displays in their AFCON history.

This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter. Chooka has a passion for football and has been a fan of Enugu Rangers (over 30 years) and Real Madrid (Since 1996).