The Super Eagles of Nigeria will reach the round of 16 of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt if they defeat the Syli Nationale of Guinea in their second match of the tournament today.
The match starts at 4.30pm Egypt time, which is 3.30pm in Nigeria.
Guinea’s unexpected 2-2 draw against debutants Madagascar on Day 1, for which both teams shared a point each, means any team that harnesses six points in Group B would most certainly progress to the knockout rounds.
The availability of France –based forward Samuel Kalu, who can also play as wing back, has provided further options for Coach Gernot Rohr for today’s clash between these fierce West African rivals at the Alexandria Stadium.
Kalu elicited jubilation in the Nigerian camp on Monday evening after further tests in Cairo cleared him to play at the AFCON 2019. He slumped to the ground during training session and was stabilised before being taken to hospital on Friday. The incident ruled him out of Saturday’s clash with Burundi.
Kalu can fit into the right side of the attack, where he dazzled against Seychelles on Mahe Island in a qualifying match in September 2018 and against Libya home and away the following month, and can equally hold firm as wing back, as he did against South Africa in the penultimate qualifier in November 2018.
However, the Syli Nationale are bound to throw everything into today’s game, as defeat would gravely abbreviate their chances of progressing to the knockout rounds. And they have a coach who has a reason to want to put a knife through Nigeria’s ambition.
It is probable that Coach Rohr will stick with South Africa –based Daniel Akpeyi in goal, with Kenneth Omeruo and Willian Ekong at the centre of defence and Ola Aina at left back. Also 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.