Unfortunately for the Super Eagles 🙁, their run up to claiming a fourth continental title was put to a halt yesterday night as the Desert Foxes of Algeria held firm and steady to win the Super Eagles and avenge their failure to qualify for the last World Cup.
How it happened
The Super Eagles rolled out with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation while Algeria came out running with their 4-1-4-1 formation. Daniel Akpeyi continued in between the sticks for Nigeria. Omeruo continued his partnership in central defence with Ekong while Collins and Awaziem filled the left back and right back spots respectively.
The midfield consisted of Ndidi and Etebo in a double pivot while Ahmed Musa flanked the left wing, Alex Iwobi through the middle Chukwueze the right wing with Ighalo forwarding the attack.
The match started with Algeria in the front foot and carving out series of good chances including a one on one that was saved by Daniel Akpeyi.
The Super Eagles slowly got into the game and at some point possessed the ball and produced few wonderful touches and play but did little to carve out the stubborn Algerian defence.
Few minutes before the approach of half time, Algeria brilliantly opened space for Mahrez to beat J. Collins in a one vs one situation and his cross into the penalty area unluckily put into the net by Ekong. That own goal meant Algeria went into half time with a 1-0 lead.
The Super Eagles came into the second half with more intent than the first. They moved the ball effectively and quickly but were lacking the final touch to put the ball at the back of the Algerian net. That first 10-15 minutes push appeared to be more of a premature scare and Algeria settled back into the game.
The Super Eagles kept pushing and luckily for them, VAR was on hand to hand them a penalty after Etebo’s shot appeared to have hit the arm of an Algerian defender. Ighalo would go on to score the ensuing penalty and draw his team level but it wasn’t enough as the Algerians rallied late on to get a freekick very close to the 18 yards box which Mahrez expertly converted to win them the tie.
Nigeria would have to settle for third place match between Tunisia for the bronze price.
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