MADAGASCAR 2-0 NIGERIA: Super Eagles stunned as Barea steal Group B’s top spot

The Super Eagles of Nigeria were left stunned after a 2-0 defeat to the Barea of Madagascar Madagascar at the Alexandria Stadium on Sunday. Goals from Lallaina Nomenjanahara and Carolus Andrea in either half of  the game ensured a Gernot Rohr tutored side would lose Group B’s first spot to the AFCON debutants and set up a likely round of 16 clash with either Ghana or Cameroon.

Head coach Gernot Rohr, made five changes to his side that started in the 1-0 victory against Guinea’s Syli Nationale on Wednesday. Moses Simon was moved to the bench as Samuel Kalu finally got named in the starting XI after his dehydration issue while in training just days to Nigeria’s first game against Burundi.

Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi who kept clean sheets in Nigeria’s first two game was also benched as Katsina United’s Ikechukwu Ezenwa got named in goal to replace the Kazier Chiefs man. William Troost-Ekong came in for Kenneth Omeruo – Nigeria’s goalscorer in the 1-0 win over Guinea. John Mikel Obi and John Ogu were the other changes made to the team in place of Alex Iwobi and Wildfred Ndidi in the midfield.
Mikel had the chance to open the show for Nigeria after receiving a half chance falls but his attempt at towards goal got blocked and eventually cleared by the Malagasy. The Super Eagles seemed to have settled better into the game in the first few minutes but there was still no clear cut show of in the team’s midfield which comprised of Mikel, Ogu and Etebo.
Nigeria then got a free kick just outside the Madagascar’s penalty area as Razak raked his studs down the back of Ighalo’s achilles. Musa took it but blazed it high and well over the bar.
Madagascar with their first attempt at goal, then took the lead inside the first 15 minutes. John Ogu played the ball across the box with Leon Balogun in sight, the Brighton and Hove Albion man failed to make up his mind early, as Lallaina Nomenjanahara pounced on the loose ball, rounded Ezenwa in goal and scored with ease.

Balogun few minutes later, made another short ball back to Ezenwa but the keeper was quick to clear this time and save the team from another blunder. Nigeria had a good chance as Kalu drove into the Madagascar box but his attempted curling effort with his left foot went comfortably wide.
Image result for leon balogunNigeria came shy of goal again as Etebo played the ball quickly into the box, Ighalo dummied so Musa had a run at goal. The winger rather than shoot, tried to take ball round the keeper but lost his footing, as the ball got cleared for a corner.
Madagascar tried their chance at goal again after a fabulous move, carving Nigeria well open with at least 7 quick passes, but ended with a dreadful shot by the skipper that was well wide.
Coach Rohr who needed side to get a draw or an outright win in other to top the group, made a half time change by taking off Ogu for Wilfred Ndidi.

That was not enough as Madagascar went 2-nil up. Andrea Carolus won a free kick, got up to take the set-piece and had his shot deflect off Ndidi at the edge of the box and loop into the roof of the net beyond Ezenwa in goal.
The Super Eagles came close to pulling one back in the 56th min as they had their first shot on target but Ndidi’s effort got comfortably saved by Adrien. Madagascar almost went another goal up but Ezenwa saved after a scramble.

The Super Eagles having already qualified, now move to the round of 16 but as second positioned  to face the runners up of Group F which would West African arch rival Ghana or Cameroon at the Cairo International Stadium next week Saturday while Madagascar progress out of the group in first and would face the third positioned teams of either Groups A, C or D.