Nigeria’s Super Eagles who were expected to be comfortable winners in their opening match against minnows Burundi, are now expected to book their last-16 spot on Wednesday when they take on the Syli Nationale of Guinea in the first of second round group stage games at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
A late 1-0 win over tournament debutants Burundi in their opener leaves the Super Eagles in a strong position ahead of their encounter with Guinea, who drew 2-2 with Madagascar last time out.
Gernot Rohr admitted after the match that his side were made to “suffer” by Burundi, and next up is what should be an even tougher game against a Guinea side ranked 63 places better off than the Super Eagles’ previous opponents in the FIFA rankings.
The Super Eagles ultimately got the job done as an Odion Ighalo-inspired victory made it five wins in a row in the Africa Cup of Nations – Nigeria’s longest-ever streak in the competition.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) June 23, 2019
Guinea themselves, who were forced to start Liverpool’s midfielder, Naby Keita from the bench, came away from their Group B opener against Madagascar with a point after a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Alexandria Stadium last Sunday. A game the Guinean coach described as “disappointing”.
Keita’s fitness was a big talking point heading into the biennial showpiece, having missed the final stages of Liverpool’s campaign with a groin problem that he has only just recovered from, though he now looks ready to play a full part.
Put has called on his players to cut out the sloppy errors if they are to have any chance of claiming a positive result against Nigeria, knowing that defeat to the Super Eagles and victory for Madagascar over Burundi will see his side drop to third.
Having lost just one of their last 10 matches over the last year – 1-0 to Senegal in their final warm-up match – Rohr’s side are showing why they are many peoples’ favourites to go all the way this year.
Ighalo who was top scorer in qualifying was named among the subs against Burundi, though his crucial goal should see him reclaim his place ahead of Guinea. Ahmed Musa is another player on contention to start this one after being left out last week, with Paul Onuachu’s place in the side believed to be most at risk.
Whether Rohr would play Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi as the team’s number 10 rather than skipper Mikel Obi who seemed lost in the game, is a question many can’t answer till tomorrow. Another big question would obviously be Kazier Chiefs’ Daniel Akpeyi who seemed jittery in goal. Many are proposing 20-year old World Cup goalie, Francis Uzoho should be in-goal.
As for Guinea, Put will surely have to take a risk on the fitness of key player Keita in what is a huge match for his side. Mohamed Yattara was brought on for Kaba late on in the National Elephants’ opener and is pushing for inclusion here.
Nigeria in AFCON 2019: 1-0 vs Burundi (W)
Nigeria’s form (all competitions): DWWDLW
Guinea in AFCON 2019: 2-2 vs Madagascar (D)
Guinea’s form (all competitions): DDDLLD
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