After nearly losing out on their first Africa Cup of Nations victory on foreign soil 40 years ago in Abidjan, Nigeria’s Super Eagles are back in familiar territory to seek success.
The Super Eagles will face Equatorial Guinea on Sunday as Group A hostilities resume after Cote D’Ivoire got off to a flying start with a 2-0 win over Guinea Bissau.
The match on Sunday at the Alassane Quattara Stadium in Ebimpe, Abidjan, will be the first-ever meeting between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in the AFCON.
The current African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, is certainly the most talked about player in Nigeria’s set-up, but there are many more who are at the peak of their games and would be delighted to have them in their roster.
Despite the fact that many people have decided to downplay Nigeria’s prospects, the team’s captain, Ahmed Musa, has stated that he and his teammates would speak on the game, not on social media or other insignificant forums.
“We believe in ourselves and we are ready to do our best for our country, Insha Allah we will do the Green and White colours of Nigeria and lift the trophy,” Musa said at Saturday’s pre-match conference.
Musa understands what it’s like to capture the AFCON title, having done so in South Africa in 2013.
“The goal is to do it again, it has been a long time since we won the AFCON but come February 12, Insha Allah, the Super Eagles will lift the trophy,” Musa affirmed.
Super Eagles coach Jose Peseiro said leading the Nigerian national team comes with the burden of expectation and he is ready for the big challenge.
“To play for Nigeria is not easy, 200 million football fans want to win and we need to answer with good results on the pitch,” the Portuguese manager told the media.
Peseiro who has had to make a series of replacements in his team remains confident his assembled squad is good enough to challenge for the top prize in Cote d’Ivoire.
“It’s unfortunate that those players can’t be here with us, they all want to play but they can’t because of injury,” Peseiro told a press conference in Abidjan on Saturday.
“The good thing is that we have the players to replace them.
“It’s not much of a problem for us because we have picked players with the same profile.
“Onuachu is similar to Sadiq, Moffi and Boniface are not different, same thing with Ndidi and Alhassan.
“These players have different characters, but in terms of profiles, they are not different.
While the Super Eagles aim to fly high from the start, Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional are also talking tough and should be taken seriously.
Juan Micha’s men enter the tournament in fine form, having gone unbeaten in 2023 and winning World Cup qualifying games against Namibia and Liberia without allowing a goal.
While Nigeria is a three-time winner and a frequent semi-finalist, Equatorial Guinea coach Juan Micha remains unfazed.
“We have an ambition in this tournament, we want to win it,” he declared at Saturday’s pre-match press conference. “We are aware of what to do, we want to give our best.”
Acknowledging Nigeria’s glut of talents, Micha emphasized his team’s rigorous preparation and believes their potential can match the Super Eagles’ might.
Equatorial Guinea’s goalkeeper, Jesus Ovono, echoes Micha’s confidence.
Facing the continent’s current best player, Victor Osimhen, Ovono promised to put his best game on the table.
“I will do my best to stop Victor Osimhen and other Super Eagles players,” he stated, drawing on the team’s impressive performance in the previous AFCON despite being less known.
“We train a lot, and we have prepared for the rumble.”
Game: Nigeria vs E. Guinea
Date: 14 January 2024
Kick-off: 15.00hrs WAT, 16.00hrs SAT, 17.00hrs EATVenue: Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium.
How to watch Nigeria vs E. Guinea online – TV channels & live streams
Online StreamingTV Channel
Azam app, SuperSport App, BBC iPlayer, Bein Sports
East Africa: Azam Sports, SuperSport TV, StarTimes
Southern Africa: SuperSport TV, SABC Sport West Africa: SuperSport TV, New World TV, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA)
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
PREDICTION: Nigeria 2-1 Equatorial Guinea