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END OF THE ROAD FOR NIGERIA AS MAHREZ’ MAGIC FIRES ALGERIA INTO AFCON FINAL.

‘Seye Akanmu-Bode

The Super Eagles of Nigeria this evening in Cairo lost the semi final match to the Algerian team spearheaded by Man City player ,Riyadh Mahrez. Mahrez had given his side the first goal of the match as his cross was chested into the net by a shaky Troost- Ekong. Nigeria got a lifeline in the last quarter of the match as an Algerian defender , Mandi, handled the ball in the penalty zone. A VAR decision necessitated the referee awarding a penalty to Nigeria. Odion Ighalo,now on 4 goals and in contention for the golden boot ,coolly tucked the ball in to draw level for Nigeria.

Largely to blame for a poor wall and positioning.

Then 4 minutes of added to time, the Eagles started playing as if they had done enough to go to extra time.The Algerians didn’t want to hear that as they forced Nigeria into countless passing errors. One of the strayed passes fell to an Algerian player who drove in ,only to be brought down by Ndidi at the edge of the penalty zone. I thought the Eagles ought to have defended the free kick better knowing fully well where Mahrez would likely put the ball due to his antecedents in Man City. Alas,a poor wall coupled with a bad positioning by Akpeyi offered Mahrez the chance to nest the ball in the net for the second and decider goal.

Mahrez curled a brilliant freekick to end Nigeria’s Afcon hopes.

From the blast of the whistle, it was clear who was in the driver’s seat as Algeria took the game to Nigeria and we couldn’t respond alike. Musa and Chukwueze were subdued for most part of the match. Etebo and Ndidi made couple of errors as a result of the tactics of the opponent to close down immediately. The defence was also in sixes and sevens as countless errors were made by the defence especially Troost and Omeruo.

Algerian players in ecstasy after the final whistle.

Algeria with this result have thus entered their first final since 1990 when they hosted and won it for their first and last trophy. They have the chance to add a second,only if a thirsty Teranga Lions of Senegal, itself looking for its first Afcon title,would allow them. The final promises to be interesting. Nigeria will slug it with fellow loser,Tunisia for a bronze medal match. A medal that has adorned our necks more than any team in Africa.

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