Nigeria's U-23 men's football national team were held to a dispirited 0-0 draw against Guinea in the final round of qualifiers to the 2023 CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco on Wednesday evening.
The tournament serves as qualification to the Football event of the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
With a tricky return leg in Conakry still to look forward to on March 28 Nigeria soccernet access from Wednesday's disappointing performance of the team coached by Salisu Yusuf
1. Super Eagles distraction :
What was supposed to be a morale booster ended up becoming a huge distraction for the team.
The U-23 Eagles shared the same Moshood Abiola Stadium with the Super Eagles team set to play against Guinea-Bissau in a double header AFCON qualifiers.
Both sets of players from the U-23 Eagles and the senior national team players had the opportunity of getting up, close and personal in the same facility.
The idea of Salisu Yusuf's players getting inspired by the presence of their senior colleagues was one that backfired spectacularly as the 'Dream Team' presumably got so distracted by the presence of the big boys.
2. Guinea underrated
Another possible reason for the poor performance of the Eagles could be their false belief that Guinea will be an easy team to beat especially at home.
In the end, Guinea arrived Abuja with a very physically imposing team which the Nigerian side could not easily roll over.
With African football, the margin of victory could be so narrow knowing the dynamics and playing style of African teams.
3. Missed first half chances
The U-23 Eagles missed several scoring chances in the game and specifically in the first half.
If the team had taken their chances and gone 1-0 or 2-0 up in the first half, that could have made the Guineans uneasy. But the confidence level of the visitors naturally soared high in the second half with the Nigerian players, coaches and spectators on the edge.
4. Gift Orban, the missing piece?
The invitation letter sent out to Gent striker Gift Orban was deemed to have arrived late by his Belgian club.
The Nigerian striker has had a spectacular start to his career at Gent and might have made the difference in the match.
He should be considered for the AFCON if the Olympic Eagles beat Guinea over two legs.