Mama Samba Balde’s 29th minute goal, a brilliant strike straight from the training ground, condemned the Super Eagles to a 0-1 defeat at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday and took Guinea Bissau’s Wild Dogs top of their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification table.
Early incursions by Nigeria failed to yield dividends. Defender Bright Osayi-Samuel’s grounder was diverted away from goal in the second minute, Samuel Chukwueze’s 7th minute shot was charged down by an alert rearguard and Victor Osimhen struck the body of goalkeeper Jonas Mendes with 16 minutes gone.
The visitors had threatened in the quarter-hour when it took a quick intervention by Wilfred Ndidi to cut off Alfa Semedo Esteves in the box. The Super Eagles’ defence failed to heed that warning, and 14 minutes later, when Fali Cande heaved a long thrust forward that escaped the attention of both Calving Bassey and Kevin Akpoguma, Balde swiftly caught on, controlled the ball expertly and flicked it past onrushing Francis Uzoho for the only goal of the match.
Coach José Peseiro threw on Paul Onuachu and Moses Simon for Kelechi Iheanacho and Ademola Lookman at the beginning of the second half, but even as Nigeria created more chances, conversion remained a problem.
In the 56th minute, Simon drew gasps from the crowd as he missed from six yards, and Mendes saved brilliantly from Osimhen when the marksman was through on goal. Chukwueze blasted a couple of opportunities over the sticks and Paul Onuachu’s header flew away from goal with 12 minutes left.
Defeat meant the Eagles slipped to second place while the Djurtus climbed top, with seven points to the Eagles’ six, ahead of the two teams’ confrontation in Bissau on Monday evening