The African Cup of Nations (Afcon 2019) has been exciting so far despite only four matches into the tournament. The biggest competition in Africa is being held in Egypt and has thrown up some thrilling encounters.
We would be providing daily analysis on the major matches during the tournament. Today’s analysis is on the Group B clash between Nigeria and Burundi.
Nigeria were the overwhelming favourites for the game and faced off against the lowest ranked team in the tournament. Here are three major talking points from the game.
Burundi Needs To Take Their Chances
Watching the game it was obvious that the Nigerian team were superior to their less illustrious opponents. but on the balance of play in the first half Burundi should have been a goal up at halftime, if they had taken their chances.
The Swallows were able to cut open the Nigerian defence on several occasions in the first half due to the pace of former England u21 ace Saido Berahino.
Burundi were organized at the back and defended well but they needed their strikers to take the chances that fell to them.
If Burundi is to progress from the group they would need to improve on their finishing ahead of their next two matches against Madagascar and Guinea.
Gernot Rohr Needs To Start Ighalo
The match against Burundi was a game that could have been won by a convincing margin if German tactician Gernot Rohr had put out his best line-up for the game. He should have not started Paul Onuachu ahead of Odion Ighalo upfront.
Onuachu clearly struggled with the physicality of the Burundi defence. Ighalo is the perfect forward for this sort of games. The former Watford player is physical and excels in build-up play that enables wingers to thrive.
It was no surprise that the introduction of Ighalo changed the game and within minutes he had grabbed the match-winning goal from a perfectly executed attack.
Aina and Chukwueze Impress
Ola Aina is one player that I have always rated since I watched some clips of the player during his time with the Chelsea youth teams. However, his career had looked to be heading in the wrong direction at the start of 2018 with the fullback not making the cut for the 2018 World Cup.
It appears that the move to Torino has brought the best out of the 22-year-old. Aina shone in the left back position as he regularly covered up defensively and crown it off with a quality assist for the only goal of the game. If you have not watched the goal, I implore you to check it out as it combined an outrageous skill from Aina and a quality finish from Ighalo.
Another player that caught the eye was Villareal prodigy Samuel Chukwueze. The 19-year-old really announced himself to Nigerians in a composed way as it was impressive how he was able to handle the physicality of the opposing defenders.
There was a point in the second half where he took on five defenders in a mazy run reminiscent of Barcelona star Lionel Messi. Chukwueze needs to work on his end product, if he can improve on that, the Villareal youngster could be one of the stars of the Afcon 2019.