Nigeria's conservative strategy paid off, says Salisu Yusuf

Salisu Yusuf has been banned from all football activities for one year. Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Nigeria coach Salisu Yusuf believes that his conservative tactical approach against Libya was a key reason behind the Super Eagles' African Nations Championship victory on Friday.

Sunday Faleye scored the only goal of the game as the home-based Nigeria side beat the North Africans 1-0, winning their first game of the tournament after being held by Rwanda in their opener.

Libya were rampant as they swatted away Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in their first match of the campaign, but looked a shadow of themselves against a Nigeria side that limited their time on the ball and blocked off the channels effectively.

"Our strategy to close down their space worked," Yusuf told journalists after the match. "We watched their games and they're a good possession team, good with the ball.

"Closing down the space gave us the advantage."

It was a cagey contest which Yusuf readily admitted could have gone either way, but while Nigeria lacked creativity themselves, the Eagles coach will be delighted that his stopper Ikechukwu Ezenwa barely had a save to make.

"We played different tactics for the two games," Yusuf added. "In the other game we played 4-3-3, here we played 4-2-3-1 so that we were always compact centrally.

"This helped us deny Libya getting central penetration," he added. "Our play [out wide] worked well too."

Nigeria now travel to Agadir where they face Equatorial Guinea in their final match, knowing that anything other than defeat would guarantee progression.

"We look forward to the next game with humility and discipline," Yusuf concluded. " We have to work hard - very hard - to beat Equatorial Guinea.

"It won't be easy."