Published on

18th January, 2024

Nigeria faces the AFCON 2023 host Cote d’Ivoire, in a crucial game for both sides. The Ivorian side seems advantageous since they won their first game against Guinea Bissau, while the Super Eagles of Nigeria drew 1-1 against Equatorial Guinea the same night.

Today’s game has put so much talk and expectations, not only in Nigeria but across the globe.

So far, the Super Eagles had been disappointing since the sacking of the German football gafar, Garnet Rohr. The ouster of the team from the AFCON in Cameroon followed a great nightmare, with the failure to qualify for the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qatar.

The game against Equatorial Guinea, was to me rated as one of the best games of the Super Eagles since Jose Peseiro took over as coach. He heeded to pressure and started Nwabali in goal and the pair of Ajayi and Ekong was without blunders that night. Zaid and Aina never impressed as full backs against Equatorial Guinea and might have a chance to vindicate themselves tonight. Bassey remains my take, to start tonight on the left-back position.

Alhassan Yusuf had a great game as a debutant who was called to replace Ndidi in the midfield. Iwobi was sleepy that night and we hope he illuminates the minds of Nigerians about what he can do today. Onyeka has never hit his form and knows several players want that position too, but this should be a game for him since he is physical. Jose Peseiro has to be creative in the midfield now with who replaces Yussuf, since he and his technical team selected these players for the AFCON. He has to keep three players in his midfield tonight anyway.

The Super Eagles attack was very active in their first match, but failed to convert the begging chances supplied upfront. Lookman was everywhere against Equatorial Guinea and we hope he is handy for the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire to handle today too.

Victor Osimhen shouldn’t have the same nightmare he had in the last game. He is indeed a great striker and remember he is the reigning African Footballer of the Year. He is rated top 10 strikers in the world. The lethal Nigerian striker worth tons of millions will have an experienced and strong defense well prepared for him and Lookman.

I stand with the Super Eagles of Nigeria tonight again, to come out and match down the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, right at the Olympic Stadium of Ebimbe, Abidjan, in a clash of two West African giants. It is a battle the players should know every Nigerian is behind them to sacrifice themselves to come out victorious tonight.

We can’t do more than hope the right players are selected in today’s game with the hope that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will make us proud tonight.

Austin Akpehe

Gsports production