Super Eagles devour Antelopes 1-0 – into semi-final

Super Eagles devour Antelopes 1-0 – into semi-final
Photo by Icon Sport

The Super Eagles of Nigeria took on the Palancas Negras in the much-anticipated quarter-final clash in AFCON 2023.

The Super Eagles came into the game as the highest-ranked side in the quarter-final, keen to avoid an upset that has been a predominant feature in the tournament.

While the heavily financially-doped Angolan side maintained the same attack that included Gilberto, Agostinho Cristovao Mabululu and Gelson Dala, Jose Peseiro allayed the fears of many Nigerians with the return of Stanley Nwabali in goal for Nigeria.

The Portuguese gaffer stuck to the same lineup that beat the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. Despite regaining his fitness, Alhassan Yusuf could only get a place on the bench.

In front of a packed stadium with top Nigerian dignitaries, amid all bonuses paid, the Super Eagles could not afford to fail.

The Super Eagles beat Angola 1-0 to book a date with either Cape Verde or South Africa in the semi-final.

Ademola Lookman strikes again – gave Super Eagles 1-0 lead

Super Eagles striker Ademola Lookman strikes again
Photo by Icon Sport

The return of Stanley Nwabali from injury after his chances of return were declared 50/50 was a source of hope for SuperEagles fans.

The Super Eagles started the game with fire in their bellies. They took the game to Angola in search of an early goal. However, their first attack was rebuffed by the Palancas Negras.

The Angolans quickly settled into the game and started to attack the Nigerian side. They won the first corner kick and almost scored via a header from Gilberto and a tap from Mabululu, but Nwabali saved it with his feet.

The first attack from both sides served early notice of what to expect as the two teams showed they meant business.

The Super Eagles came close in the eighth minute to break the deadlock, but deep defending by the Angolans thwarted Ademola Lookman’s effort.

Despite the early Angolan pressure, the Super Eagles started to control the game and draw fouls off their opponents.

Nigeria continued to press and looked the likelier side to score first. In the 15th minute Osimhen saw his header sail over the bar.

Angola was constantly looking for the runs of Mabululu and tried to unlock him with the pace of Gilberto but always ran into a cul-de-sac.

Osimhen was again on the prowl in the 24th minute, but he saw his powerful header inside the box well-saved by Antonio Signori.

The game was a high-tempo game with end-to-end runs by both sides.

The first half looked like it would end in a stalemate, but with a couple of minutes left, the Super Eagles struck.

In the 41st minute, Moses Simon skipped past an Angolan defender, cut into the box and squared it for Ademola Lookman to score his third goal of the tournament and give Nigeria a 1-0 lead.

Following the goal, the Angolan side mounted pressure to get back into the game before the end of the half, but the Super Eagles held on for a 1-0 first-half lead.

Super Eagles held their first half lead

Super Eagles beat Angola 1-0
Photo by Icon Sport

The Super Eagles started the second half calmly, with the Angolans looking to pressure them, but drew early fouls.

Within a minute of the second period, Nigeria had two chances to double their lead. Alex Iwobi's shot took a deflection for a corner kick, and off the set piece, Zaidu Sanusi shot wide.

The tempo of the second half dropped a little, with Nigeria the more adventurous side.

Osimhen received few chances, and his headers were off his usual standard.

The Angolans came close to getting an equalizer after Iwobi lost the ball, but with only Nwabali to beat, the Angolans hit the bar.

The miss seemed to spur the Angolans on, but somehow, the Nigerian defence continued to hold.

Moses Simon and Lookman continued tormenting the Angolan defence, who were reluctant to commit too many men forward.

In the 62nd minute, Sanusi had the chance to write his name in gold, but the goalkeeper dealt well with his free kick.

Frank Onyeka was doing well defensively for Nigeria, but his choice of passes offensively was a letdown.

The Palancas Negras stuck to their game plan and had the Nigerian side in trouble a few times, but nothing came of their effort.

Osimhen thought he had buried the game for Nigeria in the 76th minute after heading in Lookman's free kick, but VAR chalked it off for offside.

The Super Eagles held their 1-0 lead and zoomed into the semi-final.

Stanley Nwabali, Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey, Ola Aina, Frank Onyeka (Joe Aribo 88, Alex Iwobi (Alhassan Yusuf 80), Zaidu Sanusi, Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman (Kenneth Omeruo 90), Victor Osimhen (Paul Onuachu 90)

Subs: Francis Uzoho, S. Onyemaechi, Alhassan Yusuf, Kelechi Iheanacho, Terem Moffi, Paul Onuachu, Samuel Chukwueze, Ahmed Musa, Joe Aribo, Raphael Onyedika, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Olorunleke Ojo

Antonio Signori, Eddie Afonso (Jeremie Bela 79), Kialonda Gaspar, Jonathan Buatu, Augusto Real To Carneiro, Fredy (Bruno Paz 66), Show, Estrela (Zini 46), Gilberto (Zito Luvumbo 66), Agostinho Cristovao Mabululu, Gelson Dala (Milson 86)

Subs: Kadu, Gelson, Manuel Keliano, Kinito, Zini, Milson, Zito Luvumbo, Bruno Paz, Jeremie Bela, Inacio Miguel

Nigeria v Angola Stats
  Nigeria Angola
Shots on target 3 4
Shots off target 4 3
Blocked Shots 4 1
Possession (%) 48 52
Corner Kicks 4 6
Offsides 2 3
Fouls 9 18
Throw ins 21 16
Yellow cards 1 3
GK saves 4 2
Goal kicks 3 8

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks 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.