Nigeria’s Super Eagles emerged victorious with a 3-2 win over Sierra Leone in Monrovia, securing their position at the top of Group A and earning a spot in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals in Ivory Coast in 2023.
Entering the crucial Group A qualifier, a draw would have been sufficient for Nigeria to secure their place in the AFCON finals. However, early goals from Victor Osimhen and a crucial late strike from Kelechi Iheanacho ensured a thrilling victory for the Super Eagles.
In the 19th minute, Osimhen, the hero from Napoli, gave Nigeria the lead by deftly chipping the ball over the goalkeeper, who was caught out of position. He then doubled the score 13 minutes later. Nevertheless, Mustapha Bundu reduced the deficit for the hosts just before halftime.
Both teams struggled to find the back of the net for the remainder of the match, partly due to the challenging pitch conditions. However, drama ensued six minutes before full-time when Augustus Kargbo brought Sierra Leone back into the game with a well-placed shot from outside the box.
The Super Eagles couldn’t have asked for a more fitting end to the game. Substitute Iheanacho seized the opportunity and tapped the ball into an empty net, capitalizing on a clinical play by Zaidu Sanusi inside the penalty area. This sensational winner propelled Nigeria, the three-time Africa champions, to their 20th appearance in the tournament as they head to Ivory Coast.
Guinea-Bissau, currently in second place with 10 points, just two points behind the Super Eagles, also secured their spot in the 2023 AFCON as the other representative from Group A. These two teams join a host of other countries, including defending champions Senegal, South Africa, and Ivory Coast, in the highly anticipated tournament.
Furthermore, host nation Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Zambia, Egypt, Guinea, Mali, Tunisia, and Mozambique have all successfully obtained their tickets to the AFCON, scheduled to take place in January.