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2023 AFCON Qualifiers: Guinea-Bissau stun Nigeria in Abuja, rise to top of Group A

By BBC
Cup of Nations 2023 AFCON Qualifiers: Guinea-Bissau stun Nigeria in Abuja, rise to top of Group A
FRI, 24 MAR 2023 LISTEN

Guinea-Bissau stunned hosts Nigeria 1-0 in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier played at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Friday evening.

The result, secured by a first-half strike from Mame Balde and a resilient defensive display, took the Djurtus to the top of Group A on seven points, with the Super Eagles dropping to second on six points.

The remainder of the group comprises Sierra Leone (two points) and Sao Tome & Principe (one point).

Nigeria started strongly and built up a significant amount of attacking pressure in the opening minutes, with Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman and Samuel Chukwueze looking very lively.

Yet Guinea-Bissau weathered the storm and began to offer a threat of their own, with Alfa Semedo notably striking a shot just wide of the target on 21 minutes.

And in the 30th minute, the Djurtus claimed a shock lead, as Mama Balde sprung the offside trap, beautifully controlled Opa Sangante’s long ball and steered a shot between the legs of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho for 1-0.

Six minutes later the visitors blew a great chance for a second goal, as a counterattack led by Fali Cande ended with Dalcio chipping a shot into the side netting from close range.

The Super Eagles upped their game in search of an equaliser before halftime, but the interval arrived with GB still one goal to the good.

The hosts shuffled their attack with the introductions of Paul Onucahu and Moses Simon at the start of the second half, while 10 minutes after the restart they also needed to swap out Kevin Akpoguma for Semi Ajayi due to a head injury.

Simon missed a great chance to level the game on 58 minutes, running onto a fine cutback from Chukwueze only to steer his effort wide of goalkeeper Jonas Mendes’ left-hand post, while Wilfred Ndidi also blew a superb chance created by Osimhen just after the hour mark.

The Super Eagles continued to pile forward in search of an equaliser, with Onuachu notably heading just wide after meeting Simon’s cross from the left by-line in the 80th minute, while veteran Ahmed Musa was thrown on in desperation in the dying stages.

Yet nothing broke for Nigeria, who were left frustrated and disappointed, while Guinea-Bissau were able to celebrate a famous victory which could be a major step toward a fourth successive Afcon appearance.

The teams will meet for the return Group A match at Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau on Monday 27 March.

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