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Eagles crash out, lose 1-0 to Guinea


Super Eagles have crashed out of the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda after Nigeria lost 1-0 to Guinea on Tuesday at the Umuganda Stadium in Rubavu.
A lone goal from Ibrahima Sankhon ensured the Eagles finished third in Group C with four points behind Tunisia, who defeated Niger 5-0 in their last match, and Guinea. Those two countries secured five points each. Niger finished at the bottom of the group with a point.
Coach Sunday Oliseh retained Sunshine Stars’ Ikechukwu Ezenwa in goal while Etim Matthew, Jamiu Alimi, Austin Oboroakpo and captain Chima Akas were in the defence. Paul Onobi, Ifeanyi Matthew and Usman Mohammed were in the midfield while the trio Prince Aggreh, Tunde Adeniji and Osas Okoro were in the attack.
A single defensive error cost the Eagles the match from which they needed just a draw to qualify for the quarterfinals. Guinea started the stronger side as they sought to score an early goal but the Eagles defended resolutely.
Nigeria had their first goal attempt in the 19th minute from a free-kick that was shot over the bar by Okoro but it was the Syli Nationale who went ahead in the 45th minute. Daouda Camara crossed the ball to an unmarked Sankhon, who shot into an empty net. That goal made the difference.
Nigeria finished third at the 2014 edition of the tournament in South Africa.
The defeat became Oliseh’s first competitive loss as Nigeria coach. On Tuesday he apologised to Nigerians and defended his players.
He said, “We apologise to Nigerians for this loss; we never planned to exit the tournament this early. The boys gave their best.”
Also the Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick apologised. He said the federation would now shift focus to the qualification race for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
“We apologise to Nigerians for the poor outing of the Super Eagles in Rwanda, but we toe the line of CAF which states that CHAN is a developmental and preparatory competition. Of course, as Nigerians, we love to win always, and we feel bad when we don’t.
“I want us to take the positives from this tournament. A player like Chisom Chikatara broke onto the global platform and players like Usman Mohammed, Chima Akas, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Austin Oboroakpo and Ifeanyi Mathew confirmed their class,” Pinnick said.

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