AFCON 2023 QUALIFIER
Nigeria’s quest to top the Group A of the AFCON 2023 to be played next January in Côte d’Ivoire will become reality after 90 minutes against visiting Falcons and True Parrots of Sao Tome and Principe in Uyo this evening.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 6pm at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
The Super Eagles who have already qualified for the continental showpiece are seating pretty on 12 points on top of Group A. The three-time African champions need just a point from today’s game to earn that bragging right as Group A winners!
Will the hapless, whipping team of the group turnout Super Eagles killjoy?
Second placed Guinea-Bissau on 10 points are playing at home against Sierra Leone and will profit from Eagles slip in Uyo and ascend the top of Group A if they beat the Leone Stars.
Such a scenario appears weird to Nigerian football fans. They still remember with relish how Super Eagles crushed these islanders from São Tomé 10-0 in Agadir, Morocco and expect a better result in Uyo tonight. But unfortunately, there are no minnows anymore in football. This is the new reality of the Beautiful Game in not only the African continent but globally.
But will a Super Eagles parading some of the most lethal finishers in front of goalkeepers in Europe capitulate against these no-hoppers? Super Eagles have in their fold, Victor Osimhen who is the poster boy of Napoli, champions of the Italian topflight league.
Osimhen has scored seven goals so far in the qualifiers and will be hoping to add more to emulate his compatriot, Odion Ighalo who topped the qualifier and the tournament proper at the 2019 edition hosted by Egypt. The gangling lad scored four of the goals against São Tomé in Morocco.
On hand to give helping hands to Osimhen is the duo of Victor Boniface and Gift Orban. Boniface was yesterday announced as German Bundesliga player of the month while Orban is also the headline boy of the Belgian league.
Coach Jose Peseiro also have in his fold , Taiwo Awoniyi whose goals ensured Nottingham Forest retain their elite status in the English topflight. He has continued from where he stopped last season.
Although Super Eagles parade a lethal forward line, the same cannot be said of other departments of the team with mostly average players.
This game ought to be one in which the Portuguese gaffer try out new players in some positions to ensure steady, quality reserve bench.
Will the boasts by São Tomé and Principe Captain, Luis Leal, that they are in Uyo to humiliate Super Eagles be taken as word on marble? Only 90 minutes hold the answer to that statement from the visitors.