Nantes manager gives verdict on Moses Simon’s AfCON performance

Nantes manager, Antoine Kombouaré has spoken about Moses Simon‘s incredible group stage performances at the ongoing African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

The Nantes forward has been a bright spark in Nigeria’s attack, scoring one goal and providing one assist as the Super Eagles finished the group stages being the only team to win all three games.

Simon joined up with the Nigerian national team on the back of solid performances at Nantes in Ligue 1, where he won two player of the month awards between the start of the 2021/22 season in August and December 2021.

Simon has arguably been Nantes’ best player in the league and manager Kombouaré has stated that it will benefit the club even more if Nigeria go far in the competition.

“I am very interested in the CAN and I watch almost all the matches,” Kombouaré told Nantes’ official website.

“Of course, I am very happy for the boys selected. There were great performances from all our players.

“Of course, especially Moses Simon, with Nigeria, he’s doing something good. Now it’s time for the cutthroat matches. It’s good to see them advancing in the competition and the further they go, the better it will be for us.”

Simon has already played 18 times for Nantes this season, scoring two goals and registering six assists. He is currently one of the first names on Nigeria’s team sheet as the tournament enters the knockout rounds.

He will be looking at keeping his place in the CAF team of the tournament after being named in the team of the group stages for his impeccable performance.

Super Eagles still have a lot to prove, Simon says

Simon is not resting on his oars and has told journalists that the team still have a lot to prove even with their 100 percent start to life in Cameroon.

Nigeria under Augustine Eguavoen came into the tournament riding on the expectations of many, including analysts who predicted that they would finish as champions. They have since shown signs of living up to those expectations as they are now considered the key favourites for the 33rd African Cup of Nations title.

Simon, however, says the West African nation – who face Tunisia in Sunday’s round of 16 fixture – should not let the praises get to them.

“We are not the ones calling ourselves the favourites and winning three matches on the bounce doesn’t change the fact that we can improve,” Simon told BBC Sport Africa.

“Personally we know that we’ve still got a lot to prove because big teams like Algeria and Ghana have been sent home early, so that is a sign not to get carried away.

“Some people are already underestimating Tunisia but they are here to also fight for a place to be in the quarterfinal and I’d rather we play them as the underdogs than approach it like favourites.”

Simon also praised the former manager Gernot Rohr for laying a good foundation which the team is building on in the ongoing tournament.

“We cannot forget the foundation laid by the former coach [Gernot Rohr] because he also gave majority of the players here a chance to play for the country,” Simon added.

“It’s always a dream come true to play for Nigeria. There’s always a huge passion and desire to do well for your country and enjoy the plaudits but we must be careful. We have not won anything yet as a team in Cameroon.”

Tunisia report 12 COVID-19 cases in their camp ahead of Nigeria clash

Elsewhere, Tunisia will be facing Nigeria at less than half strength with a whopping 12 players having tested positive for COVID-19.

Tunisia head coach Mondher Kebaier, the captain, Wahbi Khazri, and 11 other players are currently isolating leaving the Carthage Eagles short of adequate manpower and tactical nous to face a rampaging Super Eagles of Nigeria side.

Manager Kebaier was absent during the pre-match press conference on Saturday and Jalal Al-Qadri, Tunisia’s assistant coach, addressed journalists in his place during the press conference.

Al-Qadri stated that alongside manager Kebaier and captain Khazri, Aissa Laidouni, Dylan Bronn, Ghaylène Chaalali, Ellyes Skhiri, Anis Ben Slimane, Mohamed Romdhane, Ali Maâloul, Ben Hmida, Aymen Dahmen, Yoann Touzgha and Issam Jebali will be sitting out the crucial match against Nigeria.

Also, first choice goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha is suspended from the game, limiting their options between the sticks as well.

Tunisia, who qualified for the round of 16 after finishing as one of the four best losers in the group stages, will feel hard done by the tournament after a controversial start to life in Cameroon.

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