It is the clash of the group and the teams say they are ready. Today at the Alexandria Stadium here in Egypt, Nigeria will trade tackles with Guinea in a game that would give the winner the leadership of the group.
As things stand, Nigeria occupy the top position after beating Burundi 1-0 on Saturday, the same day that Guinea drew 2-2 with Madagascar.
A win for Nigeria will place the Eagles on an unassailable six points and passage to the second round, while Guinea’s victory would take them to the top on four points.
The match starts at 4.30 p.m. Egypt time, which is 3.30pm in Nigeria.
Nigeria has been buoyed by the availability of Samuel Kalu, who missed the game against Burundi through sickness, while the Eagles lost Shehu Abdullahi and Jamilu Collins.
This would be the 15th match between the teams, with Nigeria winning four times and Guinea getting the same number of wins in previous matches, while they have drawn six times.
Yesterday, Coach Paul Put sounded confident while fielding questions from journalists on Guinea’s prospects in today’s game.
Put was happy that talisman, Naby Keita is fit to start today’s game, but he also talked about the team’s desire to have one over Nigeria to enhance their chances of making the second round.
Paul Put was head coach of Burkina Faso’s Etalons who lost the final of the 2013 AFCON tournament to the Super Eagles at Soccercity in Johannesburg, three weeks after both teams ended their opening match of the finals 1-1 in Nelspruit.
It is probable that Coach Rohr will stick with South Africa–based Daniel Akpeyi in goal, with Kenneth Omeruo and William Ekong at the centre of defence and Ola Aina at left back. With Abdullahi Shehu injured, and Samuel Kalu now fit, the latter’s steel and attacking instincts could nip the right back shirt for him ahead of Chidozie Awaziem, while Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Oghenekaro Etebo may pull strings in midfield, if skipper Mikel Obi starts from the bench.
Samuel Chukwueze, Odion Ighalo and Ahmed Musa may start at the fore, against a very strong Guinea team and on a day Nigeria need the goals and points to ease into the knockout rounds with a match to spare.
Steadily, the Super Eagles has become a team reaching milestones with a match to spare, from qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup to earning the ticket to AFCON 2019.