AFCON 2023:Dortmund Icon Names Nigeria’s Most Significant Player Ahead of South Africa Clash

AFCON 2023:Dortmund Icon Names Nigeria’s Most Significant Player Ahead of South Africa Clash

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
Nigeria logo
Super Eagles logo
Super Eagles
South Africa
South Africa logo
South Africa
South Africa
Ademola Lookman logo
A. Lookman
Atalanta logoFNigeria logo
Semi Ajayi logo
S. Ajayi
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  • The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast is in its semi-final stages
  • Nigeria’s Super Eagles are poised to face off against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana
  • An ex-Dortmund star has identified Nigeria’s most significant player at the AFCON

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have transitioned from being regarded as underperformers to one of the favourites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title.

The three-time Cup of Nations champions, who came into the showpiece in Ivory Coast on the back of a disappointing run of results, did little to cover themselves in glory in their opening fixture against the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea.

AFCON, Nigeria, Semi Ajayi, Sunday Oliseh, Super Eagles
Semi Ajayi competes for the ball with Nouhou Tolo during the Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 match between Nigeria and Cameroon. Image: MB Media.
Source: Getty Images

However, Jose Peseiro's team has shown a remarkable turnaround since that lacklustre performance at the Stade Alassane Outtara. They have achieved a series of victories, an even more impressive feat considering they haven't conceded a goal during this period.

Looking ahead to the crucial semi-final against South Africa's Bafana Bafana, a former Borussia Dortmund midfielder has highlighted the most significant player for the Super Eagles in the AFCON campaign.

Dortmund icon names Nigeria’s most significant AFCON star

In a chat with media outlet Channels Television, former Borussia Dortmund star, Sunday Oliseh, singled out central defender Semi Ajayi as the standout player for the Super Eagles at the AFCON.

Discussing the team's success and his choice for the most outstanding player in the Nigeria squad, the 49-year-old remarked,

"People are forgetting that Ajayi is doing a great job at the back. The man is quiet, but he's doing his job."

This statement from the 1994 Cup of Nations winner may come as a bit surprising, considering that the West Brom central defender, though consistently featuring throughout the competition for the Eagles, has had a performance that went somewhat under the radar but remained solid.

While many fans expected Oliseh to choose Atalanta's Ademola Lookman, who has proven to be the most potent player for the Super Eagles in the tournament, the former Fortuna Dusseldorf manager had a different perspective.

Nevertheless, the opinion of the 49-year-old matters little to fans of the Super Eagles, who are eagerly anticipating the team securing their first Cup of Nations title since 2013.

Oliseh highlights reason for Nigeria’s AFCON success

In another report Sports Brief highlighted former captain of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, has stated the reason for the team’s success at the showpiece in Ivory Coast.

The ex-Juventus midfield maestro emphasised the significance of defensive compactness as the primary reason behind Nigeria's impressive performance in the competition.

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).