The Super Eagles are set to face Equatorial Guinea on Sunday in Group A, following Cote D’Ivoire’s 2-0 victory over Guinea Bissau. This encounter at the Alassane Quattara Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan, marks the first-ever meeting between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in the AFCON.
Nigeria’s current squad is hailed for its talent, with the spotlight on the reigning African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen. However, other players, including captain Ahmed Musa, express their determination to let their performance on the pitch speak for itself, emphasizing their belief in winning the trophy.
Coach Jose Peseiro acknowledges the expectations associated with leading the Nigerian national team, expressing confidence in his assembled squad despite some necessary replacements due to injuries. Peseiro notes the similarity in profiles among replacement players, maintaining optimism about their chances in Cote d’Ivoire.
Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional, led by coach Juan Micha, enters the tournament with an impressive record, remaining undefeated in 2023 and securing victories in World Cup qualifying matches. Micha declares their ambition to win the tournament, emphasizing rigorous preparation and the desire to give their best.
Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper, Jesus Ovono, promises to challenge Super Eagles’ players, especially Victor Osimhen, expressing confidence in their training and preparation.
Nigeria, with a rich AFCON history, aims to add another title to their three championships. It sets the stage for an exciting clash as both teams seek to make their mark in the tournament.
Nigeria’s possible starting lineup:
Uzoho, Osayi-Samuel, Ajayi, Bassey, Onyemaechi; Chukwueze, Iwobi, Onyeka, Simon; Lookman, Osimhen
Equatorial Guinea’s possible starting lineup:
Owono; Akapo, Anieboh, Orozco, Ndong; Ganet, Bikoro; Miranda, Machin, Salvador; Nsue
Sunday, 14 January 2024 at 2:00 PM UK (7:30 PM IST)
Location: Olympic Stadium of Ebimpé
Nigeria (in all competitions): L-D-D-W-D
Equatorial Guinea (in all competitions): D-W-W-D-D
Players to Watch
Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)
The focal point of the Nigeria camp will be the 25-year-old Napoli forward, Victor Osimhen, who has emerged as the main star. Osimhen has showcased his scoring prowess in Serie A, contributing 7 goals and 2 assists in 13 games this season. On the international stage, the forward has an impressive record, netting 20 goals in 27 competitive appearances for Nigeria. Although he began the last friendly game on the bench, the head coach is expected to entrust Osimhen with a starting role on Sunday, counting on his goal-scoring capabilities.
Equatorial Guinea’s captain, Emilio Nsue
He is anticipated to lead the attack for the National Thunder. With 37 appearances for the national team, Nsue has already scored 15 goals. At the club level, the 34-year-old plays for CF Intercity, currently competing in the third tier of Spanish football divisions. Nsue’s experience and goal-scoring ability make him a key figure for Equatorial Guinea as they prepare to face Nigeria.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is grappling with injury concerns in their forward department. Sadiq Umar’s injury came at an inopportune time, adding to the absence of another forward, Victor Boniface, who was ruled out due to an abductor injury. In the recent friendly game against Guinea, star forward Victor Osimhen was initially kept on the bench, but head coach José Peseiro is expected to start him in the upcoming match. The injuries have prompted adjustments in the forward lineup, and Osimhen’s presence from the start aims to boost Nigeria’s attacking prowess.
On the other hand, Equatorial Guinea, led by Juan Micha, enters the game without any injury concerns. Following a 1-1 draw in a friendly, the team is in good shape and eager to approach the match aggressively. The absence of injury concerns allows Micha to field his preferred lineup and maintain the team’s focus on a strong performance against Nigeria.