In round 3 of the AFCON 2019 qualifying, Nigeria hosted Libya in Group E, in one of two back to back games they will play in the space of just four days. The Super Eagles were confident ahead of the game and turned up with their strongest squad at the moment. The starting eleven were Francis Uzoho in goal, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, Jamilu Collins and Shehu Abdullahi in defence, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Samuel Kalu in midfield with Alex Iwobi and Ahmed Musa (C) behind Odion Ighalo up front.
Straight from the kick-off, Nigeria were pressing and forced the Libyan goalkeeper to make a mistake and concede a penalty in the 3rd minute of the match. Odion Ighalo, who was brought down by the keeper, took the spot kick and scored, thus giving the Eagles a great start. However, around the 18th-minute mark Shehu got injured and had to be substituted by Aina. That didn’t stop the Nigerians who carried on attacking and almost scored a second goal before the break. Jamilu Collins hit the crossbar with a great individual effort. Still, the score stayed unchanged at the break.
In the second half, Nigeria were more aggressive which paid off in the 58th minutes when Alex Iwobi sent a great pass to Ighalo who went around the keeper to slot the ball into the net for his and Nigeria’s second on the night. Shortly after Ighalo managed to complete his first ever hat trick for the Super Eagles giving Nigeria a 3:0 lead. It was the captain, Musa, who supplied the pass this time.
Nigeria never allowed the Libyans to cause any danger in front of goal and they allowed them only one shot on target in the whole match. The game was rounded up by a brilliant Samuel Kalu goal in the last minute of regular time. The final score was 4:0. After the match, Nigerian Coach Gernot Rohr had nothing but praise for Ahmed Musa and the way he lead his team as interim captain while John Obi Mikel is recovering from injury. He said that he had found his new captain and that Musa is leading the players in a different way. He also pointed out how young the team is, with an average age of 24.
With these three points, Nigeria go second in Group E of the AFCON 2019 qualifying, one point behind South Africa who thrashed the Seychelles team 6:0. There is no rest for the Super Eagles, as they are immediately heading to Tunisia to get ready for the second match of this doubleheader against Libya in a few days.