AFCON 2023: Ex Chelsea Defender Predicts Ivory Coast Clash Will Be the Easiest for Nigeria

AFCON 2023: Ex Chelsea Defender Predicts Ivory Coast Clash Will Be the Easiest for Nigeria

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Victor Osimhen logo
V. Osimhen
Napoli logoFNigeria logo
Alex Iwobi logo
A. Iwobi
Fulham logoFNigeria logo
Moses Simon logo
M. Simon
Nantes logoMNigeria logo
Kelechi Iheanacho logo
K. Iheanacho
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Ivory Coast logo
Cote DIvoire
Ivory Coast
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Super Eagles
South Africa
  • Match round two of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations commences with a cracker on the cards
  • The Super Eagles of Nigeria are poised to square off against Ivory Coast in match round two
  • A former Chelsea defender has predicted the clash will be the easiest for Jose Peseiro’s men

The second round of matches in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off with an electrifying encounter between Ivory Coast, the host nation, and Nigeria's Super Eagles.

Widely considered the standout game of the tournament so far, this match carries significant consequences, as a victory for either team would secure a spot in the competition's round of 16.

AFCON, CAF, Nigeria, Super Eagles, Ivory Coast, Samuel Chukwueze
Samuel Chukwueze in action during the clash between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Image: Issouf SANOGO
Source: Getty Images

Following a less-than-impressive performance against Equatorial Guinea's Nzalang Nacional, doubts have crept in among supporters of the Super Eagles regarding their ability to withstand the formidable attacking threats posed by Ivory Coast.

These concerns are exacerbated by data from Fotmob, revealing that the Nigerian national team has not secured a victory since their 3-2 friendly triumph against Mozambique in October 2023, spanning over five games.

Despite the prevailing scepticism, a former Chelsea defender has offered a different perspective on the Super Eagles clash against the host nation, labelling it as potentially the easiest match of the tournament for Nigeria.

Ex Chelsea defender on Nigeria’s clash

In an interview with OwnGoalNigeria, former Super Eagles and Chelsea defender Celestine Babayaro emphasized that he believes the upcoming clash against Ivory Coast will be the easiest for Nigeria.

Babayaro explained,

"As the host, Ivory Coast is likely to come out and play, creating space for Nigeria's fast forwards to exploit, unlike Equatorial Guinea, who defended with a low block. This could be the easiest game for the Eagles, perhaps the easiest in the tournament.
The host will be under pressure to score, and if that doesn't happen, they may become nervous. This is a scenario that often unfolds in games against host nations, and it favours the other teams."

He emphasised the importance of key players such as Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Victor Osimhen stepping up, particularly singling out Osimhen, stating,

"Especially Osimhen, he was quite wasteful in the first game. He needs to be more decisive against the host because they will give him very few chances."

The 45-year-old, who played for Chelsea between 1997 and 2005, positive outlook provides a glimmer of hope amidst the growing scepticism surrounding the Nigerian national team.

The Super Eagles will be eager to secure a much-needed victory against Ivory Coast as they face off at the Stade Alassane Outtara.

Ivory Coast Vs Nigeria preview

Sports Brief in a previous report previewed the AFCON clash between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and their Ivorian counterpart.

The clash, which is poised to be one of the games of the tournament, will feature a flurry of elite stars gracing the Cup of Nations.

Ivory Coast have been without a defeat in the AFCON group stages since the tournament in Gabon 2017.

Ero Samson photo
Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).