Nigeria 0 Mali 2: Five takeaways from Super Eagles first loss to Les Aigles in 48 years and 203 days

Published: March 27, 2024
Nigeria 0 Mali 2: Five takeaways from Super Eagles first loss to Les Aigles in 48 years and 203 days

Following their victory over Ghana, Nigeria were unable to build on their success as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Mali in Morocco. - their first loss in 48 years and 203 days against their West African rivals. 

Mali's El Bilal Toure scored the opening goal in the 18th minute, while Kamory Doumbia doubled the advantage with three minutes to the end of the game. presents five takeaways from the game.

1) Finidi makes four changes, starts without a recognized center forward

Nigeria's victory over Ghana last Friday marked their first win over the Black Stars in 18 years. 

In the match against Mali, Finidi maintained the 3-5-2 system but brought in Moses Simon, Kenneth Omeruo, Raphael Onyedika, and Jamilu Collins, replacing Cyriel Dessers, Benjamin Tanimu, Frank Onyeka, and Bruno Onyemachi.

With the absence of recognized center forward  such as Cyriel Dessers and Umar Sadiq, Nigeria struggled to break through Mali's defense in the first half.

2) Disappointing first half display

Nigeria headed into halftime against Mali trailing by a single goal. 

The Super Eagles found it difficult to handle the strength, physicality, speed, and rapid short passing of the Malian team in the first half.

Additionally, Nigeria's attack struggled to pose a threat to the Eagles' defense without a recognized striker. 

Both Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon, before his injury, struggled to match the strength and physicality of the opposing center-backs.

3) Nigeria missed big chances 

Nigeria missed key opportunities in their match against Mali as they failed to perform at their peak.

Despite struggling for possession in the first half, they were unable to break down the Malians in the second half. 

Although Nigeria had significant chances, they were unable to capitalize on them. 

Moses Simon had a prime opportunity in the first half but could not challenge the goalkeeper. 

Cyriel Dessers also had a chance to equalize in the second half but missed the target. 

These missed opportunities reflect Nigeria's overall performance against Mali, as they struggled with the opposition's pace, strength, and physicality.

4) Ndidi struggles in midfield 

Wilfred Ndidi had a challenging time in the midfield for Nigeria, facing difficulties in completing passes and dealing with the physicality of the Malian players.

5) Nigeria's defensive woes resurface 

The team's defensive vulnerabilities were once again evident in the defeat to Mali. 

Leading up to the AFCON tournament, Nigeria had difficulty maintaining a clean sheet, causing concern among fans. 

A strong defensive showing in the tournament alleviated the worries. Nigeria failed to the concede a goal from the second game until the semifinals. 

However, the team's defensive issues seem to have resurfaced with Nigeria conceding five goals in the last three matches.

Adeyemi Adewale

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