Aitor Embela Gil: Equatorial Guinea’s Keeper Celebrates Draw Against Nigeria in AFCON 2023 Opener

Aitor Embela Gil: Equatorial Guinea’s Keeper Celebrates Draw Against Nigeria in AFCON 2023 Opener

Robert Abong'o
updated at January 15, 2024 at 9:50 AM
  • Aitor Embela Gil was jubilant after Equatorial Guinea held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw
  • The unused substitute goalkeeper has spoken of the team's AFCON togetherness
  • Victor Osimhen missed a big chance which could have won the Super Eagles the game

Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper, Aitor Embela Gil, has expressed his jubilation after his team held tournament favourites, Nigeria, to a 1-1 draw in their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) opening match.

The Super Eagles faced an unexpected hurdle as Victor Osimhen's rapid response saved them from a potential upset.

The match unfolded at the impressive Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Aitor Embela was a happy man after Equatorial Guinea took the lead against Nigeria. Photo: Issouf Sanogo.
Equatorial Guinea's players celebrated taking the lead against Nigeria. Photo: Issouf Sanogo
Source: Getty Images

The prolific Napoli striker connected with a superb cross from Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman to equalise in the 38th minute.

Osimhen’s scored just two minutes after Iban Salvador’s well-taken shot gave Equatorial Guinea the lead following a low cutback from captain Jose Machin.

Equatorial Guinea's goalkeeper, Jesus Owono, showcased exceptional skills with several vital saves to thwart the Super Eagles in the second half.

A significant moment occurred in the 75th minute when Osimhen, capitalizing on a splendid long ball from Alex Iwobi, shot wide and missed a chance to secure the win, as reported by the BBC.

Unused substitute Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper, Aitor Embela Gil, expressed his happiness after the match. Speaking exclusively to Sports Brief, the 27-year-old Tercera Federación club Soneja man was jubilant with his team's performance.

”Good game, good strength from my national team. A lot of exercise to be better, but very happy with the result,” said Embela.

The underdogs managed only one shot on target in the first half, as reported by ESPN.

The goalkeeper explained how his team managed to keep the Super Eagles’ prolific attack quiet for most of the match.

“We prepared the match all together. We have to be a family. We know that if we stay together, we can play against any players,” he explained.

Looking ahead to their next fixture against Guinea Bissau on Thursday, January 18, 2024, at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé, the goalkeeper expressed confidence in his team's ability to qualify for the next round, especially considering the clash between the two big guns, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

“We have to play. We have to have the same mentality. It’s what we expect. We are going to do our all,” he affirmed.

Embela also shared his emotions about when his team took the lead against Nigeria after captain Machin found Salvador in the penalty area.

“I was very honoured for my family and my country. I ran very fast to celebrate the goal,” a jubilant Embela said.

The first round of ties in Group A sees hosts Ivory Coast on top after a 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé.

Equatorial Guinea are second, with Nigeria in third position, both tied on one point. Guinea Bissau are bottom of the group and will face Equatorial Guinea on Thursday, January 18, 2024.

Iwobi warns Ivory Coast

Sports Brief previously reported when Nigeria midfielder Alex Iwobi sent out a warning to hosts Ivory Coast after their draw with Equatorial Guinea.

The Super Eagles face Ivory Coast on Thursday, January 18, 2024, in what is expected to be a crucial tie for both.

"We don't fear anyone, we are going to go into the game with confidence, and hopefully, we'll be able to get a result," He said after the match.

Robert Abong'o photo
Robert Abong'o
Editor - Africa Team