The Africa Cup of Nations boys get separated from men in the knockout rounds, the various levels are being revealed.

 Nigeria’s Super Eagles, for the umpteenth time at this tournament, secured a vital win over defending champions Cameroon despite not being swashbuckling in attack. They registered the win by scoring three goals in a successful come-back effort.

Perhaps spurred by the disappointing loss to Madagascar in the final group B game. The Super Eagles were smart in their approach, and despite conceding two quick-fire goals, stayed calm to produce a stirring second half come back.

Ogenekaro Etebo was one of the catalysts behind Nigeria’s forward push. Image Credit: Getty Images

 It’s particularly pleasing that the goals came from Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi; his brace now puts Ighalo joint-top scorer with Sadio ManĂ© on three goals, and Iwobi’s goal will lift his belief as he nails the attacking midfield position owing to Mikel’s injury. Ighalo set up Iwobi’s winning goal as a connection between striker and no.10 becomes crucial in the knockout stages.

Betway Nigeria

Of course Mané officially beat Mo Salah in the golden boot race with hosts Egypt now knocked out of the tournament. This follows the trend of upsets so far in the knockout rounds which puts Nigeria higher in the list of favourites to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Gernot Rohr flanked by goalscorers Ighalo and Iwobi. Image Credit: Getty Images

 Coach Gernot Rohr gets so much criticism, which is expected when leading a team representing over 200 million football-crazy supporters. As it stands, his lack of tactical flexibility or rotation as it were, has guided this young team to the quarterfinals where Morocco, Egypt and Cameroon are out. As frustrating as the lack of minutes for Henry Onyekuru and Victor Osimhen feels, the gaffer is sticking with his structure and his most experienced charges, it is getting the results so far which is all that is required at this tournament.

Nigeria impressively recovered from adversity in the second half. Image Credit:

 Previously they could not get the ball in the net as much as they should, now they are securing the two goals required to turn around a knockout tie. This AFCON is not for the slick and sublime, as evidenced by the number of upsets, and Nigeria are producing results.

 Another pulsating clash with South Africa awaits in the quarterfinals, the Super eagles share a massive rivalry with Bafana Bafana and failed to beat them home or away in the qualification stage. Fresh from knocking out Egypt, the South Africans are thirsting for blood and a win for either side would mean a lot going into the semifinals.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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