Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito explains the reason behind Ola Aina’s poor AFCON final performance



Ola Aina shone at the AFCON for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Nottingham Forest boss Nuno Espirito explains the reason behind Ola Aina’s poor AFCON final performance

Faruq Ibrahim 18:01 - 24.02.2024

Tricky Trees boss Nuno Espirito Santo has shed light on Ola Aina's physical condition, and the effect it had on his performances in the later stages of the AFCON.

Nottingham Forest's head coach, Nuno Espirito Santo, has opened up about the hurdles Ola Aina faced during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) climax against Cote d’Ivoire. 

The revelation comes in light of the Nigeria international's battle with an injury sustained in the semifinal bout versus South Africa, an ordeal that notably hampered his output in the final against Ivory Coast.

Injury Woes for Aina

Despite a penalty miss in the semis against South Africa, Aina was largely absolved of blame by Nigerian fans, thanks to Kelechi Iheanacho's decisive penalty that clinched Nigeria's spot in the final. 

Yet, his performance in the grand finale left many supporters disenchanted, a sentiment rooted in ignorance of his compromised physical condition.

In a discussion before Nottingham's game against Aston Villa, Espirito Santo shed light on Aina's condition, stating, “Ola got injured in the semi-final and played the final with an injury, he tried but didn’t really play in the final. 

Nigeria defender Ola Aina has been irrepressible at AFCON 2023
Ola Aina || Imago

Ibrahim, the same, he was struggling since he was there at the AFCON. So the three of them (Ola, Willy, Ibrahim) are not available for this match, which is bad for us. We don’t have a date for their return.”

Aina's Resilience Recognized

Despite the setback, Aina's contributions to AFCON 2023 didn't go unnoticed. His performances prior to the injury secured him a spot as the best right back in the tournament's dream team, a testament to his skill and tenacity on the field. 

This accolade speaks volumes of his impact, underlining his pivotal role in Nigeria's journey through the tournament, even as he contended with physical constraints.

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