The Super Eagles of Nigeria qualified for their ninth Africa Cup of Nations semi-final from 10 quarter-finals, beating South Africa for a third time in AFCON history. The result was secured via William Troost-Ekong’s 89thminute tap-in from a corner.

Leaving you nail-biting seems to be their only form of entertainment -and boy have I eaten mine- before delivering par for the course to win games at this year’s AFCON.

Gernot Rohr has been awfully criticized for the manner in which he has used his squad, pertinently; utilizing the squad is working a treat. Substitutes have directly affected the outcome of two wins of the five games so far, with five different names on the score sheets which keeps opponents guessing. I previously stated the positives behind sharing minutes among the squad and it is going to plan. Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon and Leon Balogun are contributing when called upon due to rotation earlier in the tournament.

 Rohr deserves huge credit for his handling of this young squad, mixing it up with experience and keeping them on their toes with rotation to get results out of them.

Betway Nigeria
Samuel Chukwueze followed up his 30-minute cameo against Cameroon with a starring performance in the quarter-final. Image Credit: Modzero

 Chukwueze is the 2019 AFCON’s youngest goalscorer and had this blistering man-of-the-match performance coming, having registered three shots, four completed dribbles and creating two chances. The coach took the Villareal youngster out of the firing line after the opening game and he has finally clicked. His pace, control, trickery and eye for goal is a vital asset in the late stages of the competition, and Nigeria can only look to more dazzling performances now.

While Chukwueze’s role was reduced to cameo appearances, Samuel Kalu and Moses Simon were fielded on the right wing. Simon has now assisted the goals that secured the last 16 and semi final qualification and his set-piece deliveries are a particular delight, given how much the national team has lacked a reliable outlet from dead balls in previous years.

William Troost-Ekong celebrating his winner. Image Credit: Getty Images

The Super Eagles have once again shown their smartness in a result-oriented performance, knowing when to drop off to defend in numbers and press high in attack. The attack is steadily functioning despite some frustrating wastefulness at times while the defence is now a confident, even prolific, unit. As Daniel Akpeyi’s errors seem to have seeped out of his game, more balance could only be required with Ola Aina restored to the right fullback position.

 As we await Algeria or Ivory Coast in the semi final, Nigeria can expect to deliver the required dose for a win. As a matter of fact, opponents must be sick of the sight of these Super Eagles, they might just win no matter how well you play them.

The Super Eagles are on a mission, do you really need any more convincing?


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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