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Afcon 2021: A 'blessing' to play for Nigeria - Ebuehi revels in ‘rare’ debut

7:00 AM SGT 21/1/22
Tyronne Ebuehi
After a no show against the Pharaohs and the Falcons of Jediane, the defender made his bow in the competition against the Djurtus

Tyronne Ebuehi stated it is a blessing playing for Nigeria following his Africa Cup of Nations debut against Guinea-Bissau on Wednesday night.

After being an unused substitute against Egypt and Sudan, the 26-year-old was named in the Super Eagles line-up ahead of Ola Aina – who was rested.

Alongside the trio of William Troost-Ekong, Semi Ajayi and Jamilu Collins, he held sway in the defence to prevent the Djurtus from scoring.

Nonetheless, he was substituted for Olisa Ndah with 14 minutes left on the clock as Augustine Eguavoen’s men continued their perfect start in Cameroon 2021.

In a chat with GOAL, the Venezia prospect expressed his joy after playing his first match in the biennial African football showpiece.

“It's a blessing to play for the team. Any opportunity is a rare privilege, and I am happy to have played for my country,” Ebuehi told GOAL.

“It is very exciting. As a young player, the dream to feature at this level has always been a priority.”

Nigeria finished as Group D winners after winning all three games – a feat that has placed them as contenders to succeed Algeria as African kings.

Even at that, Ebuehi stated that such talk has not brought pressure on the team as the Super Eagles remain tranquil.

“There is no pressure to win the tournament,” he continued.
“The only pressure that we feel is the one we put on ourselves which is to be the best. We will put ourselves on the same pressure in the next game.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria will know their Round of 16 foes after all group games are concluded on Thursday evening.

They are gunning for a fourth African diadem in their 19th appearance at the African football showpiece.

Their first triumph was in 1980 as hosts before winning the title the second time at Tunisia 1994. Their last win was in South Africa 2013 after defeating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.

At the 2019 edition staged in Egypt, Nigeria finished third after defeating Tunisia 1-0 in the third-place play-off.