Finidi-Ball Over Peseiro-Ball: Five Takeaways From Nigeria Super Eagles’ Exciting Win Over Ghana Black Stars

Goals from Cyriel Dessers and Ademola Lookman gave Nigeria a thrilling 2-1 win over ten-man Ghana in Morocco on Friday.

Here are the major takeaways from the encounter.

Nigeria better than Ghana
Man to man, pound for pound, Nigeria have arguably the most talented squad on the continent, and against the Ghanaians, it was made even more obvious.

The Super Eagles stood toe to toe with the Black Stars from defence to attack and created chance after chance in the game.

In goal, Stanley Nwabali was up to the task when trouble surfaced.

Thanks to the defenders in front of him for keeping Ghana quiet for large portions, though, as the trio of Chidozie Awaziem, Benjamin Tanimu, and Semi Ajayi were almost without fault.

Wilfred Ndidi showed why the Super Eagles missed him in Cote d’Ivoire, while Frank Onyeka delivered another fine performance.

Kelechi Iheanacho and Cyriel Dessers worked well together, and the Leicester City man should be applauded for winning the penalty.

The scoreline suggests a close encounter between the two former African champions, but Nigeria could have been three-nil up by halftime if they had been more clinical in front of goal.

Ghana are a decent side, but they looked mediocre against a Super Eagles team that did not even get out of first gear.

Finidi ball over Peseiro ball
George Finidi made his Super Eagles coaching bow against Ghana, and the Enyimba coach would have made his former boss, Jose Peseiro, proud.

In his starting lineup, Finidi made slight changes to Peseiro’s 3-4-3 formation.

The former Ajax winger deployed a three-man defence just like the Portuguese tactician but started two centre forwards in what resembled a hybrid 3-5-2.

Interestingly, Alex Iwobi was allowed a free role in midfield, with Wilfred Ndidi and Frank Onyeka doing the mopping-up job at the centre of the park.

While Peseiro’s team sat back and invited pressure in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations against Cote d’Ivoire, Finidi encouraged the Super Eagles to press Ghana up the field.

The set-up resulted in a Super Eagles team that looked purposeful in attack, organised in midfield, and solid in defence.

Bye-bye, Peseiro ball. Welcome, Finidi ball.

Cyriel Dessers is not taking his chances
Cyriel Dessers scored the first goal for Nigeria from the penalty spot for his second Super Eagles.

However, the Glasgow Rangers forward had enough chances to net a hat-trick against the Black Stars.

Dessers had the chance to start for Nigeria, with Napoli forward Victor Osimhen not available for the encounter.

The absence of Nottingham Forest’s Taiwo Awoniyi and Bayer Leverkusen’s Victor Boniface also paved the chance for Dessers to return to the national fold after missing the 2023 AFCON.

To get regular call-ups, he must show efficiency and ruthlessness in front of goal whenever he puts on the green and white kits.

There was little of those qualities on display against the Black Stars. He will likely get another chance against Mali on Tuesday, and hopefully, he will deliver a performance that puts him in the thoughts of the national team handlers.

Nwabali is who he thinks he is
The goalkeeper conceded a late penalty against Ghana, but he was certainly one of Nigeria’s best players on the pitch.

He easily plucked crosses, saved shots that would have troubled Francis Uzoho, and constantly communicated with his defenders.

He seized the Super Eagles’ number-one goalkeeping gloves at the AFCON, and he looks set to retain it for a long time to come if he continues on this trajectory.

Iwobi is excellent in a free role
Alex Iwobi looks likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the Finidi-ball.

The Fulham midfielder was handed a free role in midfield, and he thrived and excelled.

He was easily Nigeria’s best player against Ghana, dictating the Super Eagles’ playing tempo and picking defence-splitting passes.

Iwobi assisted Lookman’s winning goal and had a hand in creating the penalty Iheanacho won.

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