Nigeria now boast a real chance to win AFCON 2023

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will take on Angola in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Stadium, Abidjan.

It has so far been an eventful campaign for both sides who each finished with seven points from their three group stage matches. 

Nigeria drew against Equatorial Guinea in the opening game but defeated Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau in Group A before defeating Cameroon 2-0 in the Round of 16. Angola, on the other hand, also drew 1-1 with Algeria before going on to top Group D with victories against Burkina Faso and Mauritania, then a comfortable 3-0 win over Namibia in the Last 16.

Angola will be hoping to continue their fairytale against perhaps the tournament’s clear favourites right now. Indeed, the several shocks and upsets this tournament has seen so far has left Nigeria as the highest-ranked side still in AFCON 2023.

The Super Eagles are the sixth-best side in Africa according to FIFA’s most recent World Rankings and they must now walk the talk considering Jose Peseiro has set his sights on winning this tournament since being appointed Head Coach in 2022. 

To fulfil their promise, Nigeria must remain humble and focused in every single minute of the game against the Palancas Negras. To their credit, they have boasted a resolute defensive unit throughout this campaign having conceded only one goal.

The likes of William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey and Semi Ajayi will nevertheless be tested by the front trio of Jacinto Dala, Gilberto and Mabululu and they must pay rapt attention to nullify Angola’s counter-attacks.

Elsewhere, Nigeria must also improve their chances conversion rate in order to capitalize on opportunities but the victory over Cameroon showed more of their ruthless side.  

It is pertinent to note that the Super Eagles have got better with each game in this tournament which is a headache for opponents who do not know what to expect. It is only a matter of time before their all-star attack, led by the seemingly unstoppable Victor Osimhen, clicks into gear while they already have a strong defensive core. 

It is clear that Nigeria remain a work in progress at AFCON 2023 and given the way the tournament is going so far, they will be focused on rising to the challenge to utilise this golden chance to win the competition.

With all of their realistic rivals now knocked out, they must continue the current progress for a first AFCON title since 2013.