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With the kind help of the referee: Nigeria pulls off a narrow win against South Sudan

The Super Eagles got off to the worst possible start in the African Games with their defeat against Uganda. Despite their terrible chance conversion and a cheeky opponent, and also thanks to the referee, they are doing quite well again in their group. On Monday evening, they beat South Sudan with a score of 1:0.

The Super Eagles celebrate their opening goal against South Sudan in the Accra Sports Stadium.

Despite Nigeria's embarrassing defeat in their first group game against Ghana, the bookmakers are quite sure: Nigeria should beat South Sudan without any problems. But South Sudan are obviously up against it. The Bright Stars play cheekily from the start, create chances, and impress. At some point, Nigeria also started to play along, took control, and started to miss one top-scoring chance after another. But South Sudan were also still in the game, making several offensive pinpricks and then had to take it upon themselves not to take the lead before the break. They failed to capitalize on a bad mistake by Nigeria goalkeeper Nathaniel Ikechukwu Nwosu.

The second half at the Accra Sports Stadium had much less to offer than the first one. Things got heated in the 64th minute when the entire South Sudanese team demanded a penalty. Referee Abdoulaye Manet, however, did not listen and let the game continue – probably a wrong decision. However, it wasn't corrected because there is no VAR. Towards the end of the game, things got really heated again in the penalty area – but this time on the other side. The referee suddenly saw a foul and awarded a penalty. Nigeria did not need to be asked twice and scored to take the lead. South Sudan then tried to equalize, but ultimately lacked the strength to do anything really dangerous again and therefore probably already have to bid farewell to their semi-final hopes.

The goal 81st minute; Sadiq Muhammad Isiyaka A Nigerian falls in the South Sudan penalty area without making much contact, the referee still points to the spot to the surprise of everyone and to the displeasure of many South Sudanese. Nigeria's number 7 accepts the gift and confidently converts the penalty into the top right-hand corner of the goal.

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Mario Tana Cherubino Albano. He gets off to a cheeky start early on, his courageous and superb shot from the side is deflected just over the goal by the Nigerian goalkeeper. Quite an exciting performance from the young midfielder. Controls the center of the pitch, gets involved in the attack time and again, and gets a total of 5 shots on target, 3 of which are on target. Calls it a day after 74 minutes.

This questionable award is disputed by two players. On the one hand, South Sudan's left-back, Attika Abiaza, is completely unable to cope with his opponents, allowing the Nigerian strikers to simply pass him by on several occasions. In the 60th minute, he commits a brutal foul but injures himself in the process and has to be taken off with the stretcher. Whilst getting carried away, he is shown a yellow card.

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Nigeria's center-forward Sunday Joseph misses one chance after another. He can be lucky that the expected goals value is not calculated in a game like this, as it would be embarrassingly high. Was taken off after 52 minutes to everyone's relief.

A hand-counted 26 spectators can be found on the back straight and behind the goals. There were a few hundred more in the main stand. However, this leaves open the question of whether the African Games will be a flop from the spectator side. Organizers might want to take a good look at themselves: The cheapest tickets (behind the goals) can be bought for 50 cedis, which is up to 5 times more than a normal game in the Ghana Premier League.

Guinean referee Abdoulaye Manet had a long leash on this Monday evening, allowing plenty of room to the players, showing cards only when it was really necessary and doing a good job for a long time. And yet he is likely to be criticized a lot. In the 64th minute, he let a strong hold by Nigeria's defender go unpunished, only to decide on a penalty less than a quarter of an hour later after a very light tug. Is booed by the fans after the final whistle.

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Things get really heated again on Friday, March 15th. Senegal and Nigeria will battle it out for the knockout stage at the Accra Sports Stadium at 8 pm, while South Sudan will face group leaders Uganda at the University of Ghana Sports Stadium.

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